Healthcare disparities are evident in many parts of our current healthcare system. Sadly, these disparities exist, not only in treatment or care but also in the incidence rate of certain diseases. One alarming example is that of breast cancer.
Black women are more at risk for breast cancer and have higher mortality rates than other ethnic groups. Despite a global decline in breast cancer-related deaths over the past 30 years, the rate of breast cancer among Black women has increased.
Breast Cancer Stats You Need to Know
Breast cancer affects more women worldwide than any other type of cancer. It is also a leading cause of death among women. Statistics related to breast cancer rates and mortality are most alarming among Black women. Here are 12 important statistics that everyone should be aware of:
- In the United States, women have a 1 in 8 risks of developing breast cancer.
- Overall, there is a slightly lower rate of breast cancer among Black women than among White women.
- Black women have a 31% higher mortality rate than all other ethnic groups.
- Among women under 45, breast cancer occurs more frequently in Black women than White women.
- Black women are more likely to have a triple-negative subtype of breast cancer (TNBC), which is more aggressive and has a higher mortality rate.
- Black women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age. The median age for a Black woman to develop breast cancer is 60. The median age among White women is 64.
- There has been a global increase in the incidence of breast cancer among Black women over the last 20 years.
- According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), Black women are statistically more likely to experience certain conditions that increase the risk of breast cancer, including:
- Heart Disease
- Lower rates of Breastfeeding
- Black women are more likely to have inadequate health insurance or healthcare access, which compromises early detection and treatment.
- Black individuals are more likely to die from cancer.
- Black individuals live the shortest amount of time after diagnosis than other ethnic groups.
- Black individuals are less likely to receive recommended cancer treatment.
Why are Breast Cancer Rates Increasing Among Black Women?
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are a few reasons why researchers believe breast cancer rates are increasing among Black women. Those reasons include:
- Inadequate Health Insurance
- Access to Care
- More Risk Factors
- Less Early Detection
With these factors in mind, the ACS notes that genetics plays only a small part in the disparities between breast cancer rates and mortality. Genetics and ethnicity both can contribute to a person’s cancer risk.
Racial Disparities in Healthcare
Research suggests that racial disparities in healthcare are largely driven by structural racism and the resulting lower socioeconomic status of many Black communities. There are many inequalities in healthcare that contribute to higher incidence rates of diseases like cancer. Inadequate health insurance is the leading factor, according to the ACS.
When there is a lack of insurance, there is inadequate prevention, early detection, treatment, and follow-up care for cancer patients. Unfortunately, the current Medicare and Medicaid systems are woefully behind in offering the health insurance and access to care that Black communities need and deserve.