US Breast Cancer Statistics Reveal Startling Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Diagnoses
The thought of having breast cancer is every woman’s worst nightmare. One day you’re living life normally, and the next day a mammogram reveals you have cancer. Unfortunately, this nightmare is a reality for many women in America.
It’s also important to note that though breast cancer is more common among women—men can also have it. According to BreastCancer.Org, approximately 2,650 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2021.
When it comes to breast cancer, early detection has the power to save countless lives. It’s crucial that you’re performing breast self exams. Additionally, once you’re age 40 and above, you should begin getting annual mammograms.
According to US breast cancer statistics presented by BreastCancer.Org:
- Roughly 1 in 8 women (about 13%) will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during their life.
- It’s estimated that 281,550 cases of invasive breast cancer, and 49,290 cases of non-invasive breast cancer, will be diagnosed in US women.
- For US women, breast cancer rates are the highest form of cancer diagnoses (aside from lung cancer).
When looking deeper into breast cancer diagnoses, it’s important to notice the racial disparities in diagnoses.
According to WebMD, White women are more likely to get diagnosed with breast cancer than any other race, but the death rate is 40% higher for Black women. Additionally, for younger women (under the age of 45), breast cancer rates are higher for Black women. Black women are also twice as likely to have triple-negative breast cancer, and be diagnosed with later stage breast cancer than White women are.
According to BreastCancer.Org, for Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women, the likelihood of getting breast cancer is lower than that of Black women. For Ashkenazi Jewish women, they’re at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This is due to genetics, and a high rate of BRCA mutations.
The reasons behind racial disparities in breast cancer vary, and include both genetic and societal factors. Here we will take a greater look at what causes the racial disparities in breast cancer diagnoses.
What causes the racial disparities in breast cancer?
According to WebMD, some factors contributing to the racial disparity in breast cancer diagnoses are income and inadequate use of precautions/preventative measures. As noted earlier, early detection is key in diagnosing breast cancer.
When looking at breast cancer by race, it’s important to look at income. Women classified as low income are less likely to get regular health screenings. This means they’re less likely to have annual mammograms done, thus breast cancer is more likely to go undetected and will be diagnosed at a later stage. Larger numbers of women of color are low income, thus causing large numbers of cases to go undetected in this group. Therefore, the death rates are higher.
Another key factor driving the racial disparities in breast cancer diagnoses, is the idea of healthcare bias. Time and time again women of color have been treated differently by healthcare providers, simply due to race. As a person of color, it is extremely important you know how to advocate for your own health. Checkout “Speak up! 5 ways to Advocate for your Health at the Doctor’s Office” to learn more about how you can take ownership of your health.
What steps can you take to detect breast cancer early?
Considering lack of preventative measures is a key driving factor of racial disparities in breast cancer diagnoses, it’s essential you take ownership of your own health. To catch breast cancer early, it’s important you:
Perform a breast self exam.
It’s important to regularly check your breasts for any abnormalities. A breast self exam will bring your attention to any changes in the look or feel of breasts that may raise concerns. Look out for any changes in shape, discharge, and lumps.
Though performing self exams aren’t a replacement for going to a doctor for an annual screening, it’s important for women to understand the normal look and feel of their breasts. Any abnormalities you notice should be immediately brought up to your physician.
Schedule annual mammograms.
Detecting breast cancer early has the power to save your life. Making sure you’re regularly screened for breast cancer is crucial to your health. Physicians recommend that as early as the age of 40, women begin getting annual mammograms. Mammograms are ultrasound x-rays of the breasts that help detect signs of breast cancer.
We understand that mammograms can be an overwhelming experience, but they are crucial to your health. Next time you’re due for a mammogram, make a day out of it. As a reward, grab a friend and both of you can schedule a spa day after your mammograms.
Whatever it is you need to do to motivate yourself—be sure to do it! You will feel so great knowing you are taking control of your health.
Work with healthcare providers you trust.
It’s no secret there’s a lack of representation of people of color within the healthcare system.
For example, if a Black woman who has breast cancer is contemplating getting a mastectomy, she may turn to Google to see how her body would look afterwards. A mastectomy is where doctors remove both breasts in an effort to treat breast cancer. When the woman turns to Google to see how her body could look post surgery, most of the images will be of White women. Despite Black women making up a large proportion of cases in the US, they’re not given adequate resources to make an informed decision.
Women of color going through breast cancer treatment have also noted at times they’ve gone through months of treatment without seeing people who look like them. Both on the physician side and patient side, connecting with people you trust and feel understand you is so important.
Navigating a tough health journey is made simpler when you have a healthcare provider who you feel connected and comfortable with. Obtaining a cancer diagnosis is scary, but Connect2Heal is here to help you navigate the hurdles and live your best life.