Breast Cancer & African American Women

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 8:00 AM | by Tiffany Kerrigan
 

hope

By: Amy Phillips, MPH Intern

We’ve all seen the pink ribbons, run in the Race for the Cure, or have met or known someone who has suffered from breast cancer.  Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the world, and therefore holds a very active presence in the media and the world of health promotion.  However, the harsh reality is that an estimated 232,340 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and 39,620 will die from it.  Underneath its pretty pink façade, breast cancer is still a deadly predator – especially if you are African American.

Although fewer African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer than White women every year in the U.S., African American women have a roughly 40% higher chance of dying from this disease than White women . A 2015 study found that 92% of White patients with breast cancer have a relative 5-year survival rate, while only 79% of African American patients can say the same.  In addition, African American women are being diagnosed later in their disease process, and dying at a younger age than White women.  Why is this?

There are many theories as to why more African American women die of breast cancer than any other race every year:

  • Greater chance of having other health conditions, such as obesity or heart disease
  • Limited access to quality health care services
  • Differences in tumor biology leading to greater resistance to treatment
  • Differences in treatment options due to low-income status
  • Poorer quality of interactions with health care providers
  • General lack of culturally appropriate prevention programs and tools

All of these factors combined contribute to the 1,710 more African American women than White women that die of breast cancer every year in the United States.  What can we do to help?

African American women can fight this growing trend and lower their risk for many other cancers by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Live a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet and exercise, in order to maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic disease.
  • There are many options for affordable insurance, it’s important to find an insurance policy that fits into your budget and establish a relationship with a health care provider that you trust
  • Consult with your doctor to see what screenings may be recommended for your age group.
  • Regardless of age, practice breast self-awareness so you know what’s normal for you.
  • Be sure to complete all necessary diagnostic and follow-up services in a timely manner based on doctors’ recommendations.
  • If diagnosed with breast cancer, be sure to find a provider that you trust and can communicate with effectively.
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We will be sharing these and other cancer prevention tips for African Americans at Indiana Black Expo on July 15-17! Come join us at our Big Red Bash Experience inside the Expo Hall for more information on how you can prevent cancer!

 

Resources

Hunt, B., Whitman, E. & Hurlbert, M. (2013). Increasing Black:White disparities in breast cancer mortality in the 50 largest cities in the United
States. Cancer Epidemiology (2013): 1-6.

Amini, A, et al. (2015). Disparities in disease presentation in the four screenable cancer according to
Health insurance status. Journal of Public Health (2016), 1-7.

Coughlin, S. et al. (2015). Advancing breast cancer survivorship among African-American women.
Breast Cancer Research Treatment, 153: 253-261.

Coughlin, S. et al. (2015). Advancing breast cancer survivorship among African-American women.
Breast Cancer Research Treatment, 153: 253-261.

Hunt, B., Whitman, E. & Hurlbert, M. (2013). Increasing Black:White disparities in breast cancer mortality in the 50 largest cities in the United
States. Cancer Epidemiology (2013): 1-6.