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Sisters By ChoiceCancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2016-2018 – ACS.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among black women, and an estimated 30,700 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2016. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among black women, surpassed only by lung cancer. An estimated 6,310 deaths from breast cancer are expected to occur among black women in 2016.

Sisters By ChoiceSimilar to the pattern among white women, breast cancer incidence rates among black women increased rapidly during much of the 1980s, largely due to increased detection by mammography screening. However, while rates thereafter generally stabilized in white women, they continued to increase, albeit more slowly, in black women (0.5% per year from 1986 to 2012). As a result, incidence rates in black and white women converged in 2012. The continued increase in incidence rates in black women may in part reflect the rising prevalence of obesity in this group. During 2008-2012, the overall breast cancer incidence rate in black women was 124.3 cases per 100,000 women, 3% lower than in white women (128.1). Breast cancer incidence rates are also higher among blacks than whites for women under age 45.

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Breast cancer death rates among black women increased from 1975 to 1991 but declined thereafter because of improvements in both early detection and treatment. Prior to the mid-1980s, breast cancer death rates for white and black women were similar. However, a larger increase in black women from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, followed by a slower decline, has resulted in a widening disparity. Since 1990, breast cancer death rates dropped 23% in black women compared to a 37% drop in white women. As a result, breast cancer death rates in the most recent time period (2008-2012) are 42% higher in black women compared to white women, despite similar incidence rates.

Why the Difference in Survival?

Higher death rates among black women likely reflects a combination of factors, including differences in stage at diagnosis, obesity and comorbidities, and tumor characteristics, as well as access, adherence, and response to high-quality cancer treatment.

There Are Many Possible Reasons For This Difference In Survival Including:

  • Biologic and genetic differences in tumors
  • Prevalence of risk factors
  • Barriers to healthcare access
  • Health behaviors
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  • Later stage of breast cancer at diagnosis
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