COLORADO SPRINGS — According to the CDC, African-American women have a 31 percent breast cancer mortality rate – the highest of any U.S. racial or ethnic group. Researchers say there's hope, and it all starts with breaking down barriers.
Younger African-American women in particular, are more likely to present with the triple-negative subtype of the disease, a subtype that is both more aggressive and associated with a higher mortality. Over the past 20 years, despite the universal drop in mortality rates, the incidence of breast cancer in Black women is still high. The reason this disparity exists is very complex.
Social and economic factors are partially to blame for disparities. It's also worth noting, because of gaps in wealth, Black women are more likely to have inadequate health insurance or access to health care facilities, which may affect screening, follow-up care, and completion of therapy.
According to the National Cancer Institute, disparities can be improved by creating cancer screening programs for undeserved populations. Also, getting more Black women to participate in clinical trials could help experts better understand the disease.
The first thing is education about what is available, what our advances have brought us to in terms of outcomes, and then making these advances available," said Dr. Worta McCaskills, Chief of the Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group, at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. McCaskills told our news partners that having the latest technology, like 3D screening, can help doctors detect the cancer earlier.
“This is a combination of images that are put together to help us better see, actually the images of the breast," she explained.
Here's a list of resources for Black Women with Breast Cancer:
1) The African American Breast Cancer Alliance (AABCA) facilitates peer support for African Americans diagnosed and treated for breast cancer at any time in their lives. Their programs include support groups, educational resources and retreats.
2) Black Women’s Health Imperative identifies the most pressing health issues that affect the nation's 21 million Black women and girls, and invest in strategies, partners and organizations that ensure Black women live longer, healthier more prosperous lives.
3) Latinas Contra Cancer provides cancer health education, patient navigation and psychosocial family support group services focused on underserved, low income and Spanish-speaking women.
4) Malecare is a support and advocacy organization focusing on the needs of male cancer survivors. They are known for their men’s health programs for underserved populations, including African-American, GBT and Native American male cancer survivors.
5) The National LGBT Cancer Network works to improve the lives of LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk through education, training and advocacy. Services include online support groups and a directory of LGBT-friendly cancer treatment facilities.
6) Sisters Network Inc. provides financial assistance and educational resources for African Americans with breast cancer.