Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than are white women, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, according to the report, black women experience higher death rates even though they have a lower incidence of breast cancer than white women.
The findings highlight the importance of educating women about the preventive benefits and coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act, according to the CDC, including coverage of mammograms without co-pays in many health plans. Beginning in 2014, the law will expand access to health insurance coverage for about 30 million previously uninsured Americans by 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“Although we are making progress reducing deaths from breast cancer, we have much work to do to reduce preventable deaths, particularly among African-American women,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “Only when every woman receives adequate screening, timely follow-up and high-quality treatment will the full benefit of breast cancer screening be achieved.”
The researchers reviewed data on new cases of invasive breast cancer reported from 2005 through 2009 by the CDCs National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institutes Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program. Breast cancer deaths were based on death certificates submitted to National Vital Statistics System.
Among the findings, about 40,000 women die of breast cancer each year in the United States. Black women have nine more deaths per 100 breast cancers diagnosed than white women. Black women also have higher rates of advanced stage breast cancer (45%) than white women (35%).
Better treatment and detection likely are responsible for half the recent drop in breast cancer deaths, according to the report. However, black women do not get the same quality treatment for breast cancer as white women, the reports authors added.
To read the report in the Nov. 14 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, visit www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/docs/dpk-breast-cancer-disparities-MMWR.pdf.