The American Cancer Society has recently revealed that black women have a higher propensity to develop breast cancer than women of other racial groups. The society had already released a report about new findings regarding ethnicity and breast cancer, in which it announced that while black women had for decades been diagnosed at slower rates than white women, although the gap was now getting smaller. The results of the research were published in Breast Cancer Statistics, 2015 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and in Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2015-2016.
These reports are published every two years and in this one, the analysis focused on the period between 2008 and 2012. During this time, breast cancer incidence rates increased 0.4% per year in black women. Among white women, Hispanics, and American Indian/Alaska Natives the rated remained stable, but the rates among Asian/Pacific Islanders also increased 1.5% annually. The concern regarding black women is explained by the reduction in the gap.
“Even though black women have historically had lower incidence rates than white women, death rates among black women have historically been higher, and that has continued. In fact, the black-white disparity in breast cancer death rates has increased over time; by 2012, death rates were 42% higher in black women than white women. The authors of the report say that trend is expected to continue,” stated the society as they announced the results of the report.
The conclusions of the report revealed that black women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer at later stages than other racial/ethnic groups, are more likely to suffer from the aggressive and lethal subtype of the disease known as triple-negative breast cancer, and also have the lowest survival rate at each stage of diagnosis.
These concerns about black women and breast cancer had previously been expressed, but the American Cancer Society decided to share this information on their Facebook page to celebrate Women’s Health Week, as well as to announce that researchers are currently investigating the reasons for that. The society also incentivizes everyone who has questions or concerns to contact them at 1-800-227-2345.
In addition to the American Cancer Society, there are other resources for black women concerned about, fighting or who survived breast cancer. Sisters Network Inc. (SNI), is the only national African-American breast cancer survivorship organization in the United States and it is currently the leading voice for these women. The organization was founded in 1994, it is directed by an elected Board of Directors and assisted by an appointed medical advisory committee. It has over 3,000 members, including over 40 affiliate survivor-run chapters nationwide.
“The organization’s purpose is to save lives and provide a broader scope of knowledge that addresses the breast cancer survivorship crisis affecting African-American women around the country,” explained the Sisters Network. The organization is responsible for hosting the nation’s first national Breast Cancer Conference to specifically address the impact of breast cancer among African-American women, as well as national community outreach programs like “The Gift for Life Block Walk,” “The Pink Ribbon Awareness Project,” and “STOP THE SILENCE.”
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