As the nation observes Breast Cancer Awareness Month, now throughout the remainder of the month, Black women continue to die at higher rates compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, Black women were just as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer but 40 times more likely to die from the disease compared to non-Hispanic white women. In the Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2019-2021 by the American Cancer Society, it states that overall Non-Hispanic Black women have a seven percent lower risk of a cancer diagnosis but a 13 percent higher risk of death of cancer overall.
The fact sheet shows that Black women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the localized stage which is a stage where the invasive cancer is confined in the organ in which it originates. Black women are more likely to be diagnosed in further stages such as regional and distant where the cancer spreads to surrounding organs, tissues, or nearby lymph nodes and even further to distant organs and lymph nodes during the distant stage.
Incidence rates of breast cancer are higher for Black women under the age of 45 compared to white women according to the American Cancer Society. The median age for diagnosis among Black women is 59 compared to 63 for white women.
Black women in the U.S. are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancers compared to other racial and ethnic women in the country. According to the American Cancer Society, women with this type of breast cancer have worse outcomes due to effective treatments not yet being developed.
With breast cancer being the most common cancer among women, they’re encouraged to be screened by getting a mammogram. When getting a mammogram, an x-ray photo is taken of breasts to detect early signs of breast cancer.
Besides getting mammograms, women are also encouraged to check their breasts and underarms for any new lumps. More symptoms of breast cancer according to the CDC include thickening or swelling of part of the breast, irritation or dimpling of breast skin, redness or flay skin in the nipple area or breast, pulling in of the nipple, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), any change in the size or shape of the breast or pain in the breast.