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Sunday, May 10, 2015

New Findings Explain Why Breast Cancer is More Deadly For Black Women

Black woman with breast cancer

Overall, the risk of getting breast cancer during their lifetime is lower for black women than it is for white women. However, according to the Centers For Disease Control, younger black women up to age 44 have a higher incidence of breast cancer than white women. New research explains why.

Tissue density different among black women

First, it's important to understand what a mammogram does. A mammogram is a medical x-ray that looks at breast tissue to look for abnormal masses such as tumors and cysts that can either be cancerous or non-cancerous. What puts black women at greater risk is the fact that their breast tissue tends to be more dense than the tissue found in the breasts of white women. This makes it more difficult for a mammogram to detect abnormalities within the breast tissue.

Why tissue density is important

Recent research at the University of Pennsylvania studied 1,600 black women and 1,250 white women between 2010 and 2011. All received mammogram screening. The results showed that black women were more likely than white women to have denser breast tissue. Since this makes it more difficult to locate abnormalities with the breasts, it increases the risk of breast cancer among black women.

The results of the study were recently presented to the American Association for Cancer Research for further review. The purpose of the study was to better understand racial differences of breast cancer risk among women. As study author Anne Marie McCarthy stated, "a better understanding of racial differences in breast density levels could help us identify women at the highest risk for breast cancer and target prevention strategies to those women."

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