Breast cancer deaths are increasing for Black women, researchers say. In a new study released just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, investigators reveal a shocking link between the most common form of cancer found in women and their geographical location.
According to the Avon Foundation funded study, which examined breast cancer deaths between 2010 and 2014 in 43 of the most populated U.S. cites, African-American women were nearly half – 43 percent– as likely to die from breast cancer than White women. Even more shocking, in 2006, findings noted a difference of only 39.7 percent.
Dr. Sheryl Grabam, Director of the AVON Comprehensive Breast Center, believes too many Black women are being diagnosed later when the cancer is harder to treat, according to a Fox5 Atlanta report.
In 2013, 230,815 women and 2,109 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer. While, 40,860 women and 464 men in the United States died from breast cancer, reports the CDC.
So, which U.S. cities topped the list with the largest breast cancer death disparities?
- Atlanta – where Black women are of breast cancer at a rate more than double that of White women.
- Austin, TX
- Wichita, KS
- San Antonio, TX
- Kansas City, MO
- Memphis, TN
- Los Angeles
- Oklahoma City
- Meanwhile, the report also noted that in cities like Boston, Memphis, and Philly, both Black and White women are falling victim to the cancerous disease at a similar rate — significantly improving the gap.
As for the purpose behind the findings, Cheryl Heinonen, president of the Avon Foundation said, “My hope is that as people look at this data and see these numbers, they understand we need to make sure we are ending breast cancer for every woman, not just some women, and I hope it is a call to action in many of these communities.”
Though the reason behind the gap is still unknown, one researcher believes a lack of access to quality health care plays a major role in the startling disparities. Advances in mammography and in treatments “were disproportionately available to white women,” so deaths among White women decreased, said study researcher Bijou Hunt, an epidemiologist at the Sinai Urban Health Institute in Chicago.
“Black women were not getting the same access to resources, so their rates stayed the same or got worse,” added Hunt.
So what’s next? In addition to focus groups held weekly in cities like Atlanta at Emory University and Morehouse College, Hulbert argued that a solution “has to involve all the hospitals, imaging facilities, and private practices across a city to make a difference.”
In the meantime, you can take control of your own health, by getting regular mammograms and never be fearful to ask questions. Women have a better chance of surviving breast cancer when diagnosed early.