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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Why Black Women Breast Cancer Survivors Die Earlier

Breast breast cancer survivor

According to The American Cancer Society, "Overall, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women, but African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer." The big question is, Why?

Statistically, it appears that black women should have a better outcome from breast cancer than women of other races, such as white women. But the numbers show a different story. According to recent research, there are a number of reasons for this, which include:
  • Black women with breast cancer are less likely than white or Hispanic women to get follow-up genetic screening and surgeries that can help prevent cancer from coming back.
  • Among the study's more than 1,600 women diagnosed with breast cancer by age 50, only half as many black women were tested for BRCA gene mutations* as white women.
  • Among those who tested BRCA-positive, only 68 percent of black women had preventive mastectomy, compared to 94 percent of whites and 85 percent of Hispanics.

* "The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Mutated versions of these genes cannot stop abnormal growth, and that can lead to cancer." (American Cancer Society)

More awareness needed

Dr. Tuya Pal, a clinical geneticist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, who led the study, feels there needs to be more awareness for black women. The awareness needs to include the fact that there is more health care coverage under the new healthcare reform that enables black women to have procedures covered by health insurance. This also includes coverage for BRCA gene testing.

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