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Black women continue to have poor health outcomes regarding breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Association, compared to all other racial and ethnic groups, Black women have the lowest 5-year survival rate for every stage of diagnosis and every subtype of breast cancer [1]. Breast cancer mortality is twice as high for Black women younger than 50 than their White counterparts. 

The Carolina Breast Cancer Study [2] explored the time between diagnosis and treatment and treatment duration as two possible contributors to these mortality rates. The study included 2841 women with stage I-III disease. Fifty percent of the women were Black and 50% were less than 50 years old. Study results showed that Black women experienced a higher frequency of delayed treatment. Although White women’s treatment delays were associated with low socioeconomic status (SES), Black women had treatment delays across all SES. The study identified three significant factors: lack of insurance, transportation challenges, and financial strain. However, neither socioeconomic status nor access to care was significantly associated with delayed initiation among Black women. 

Black women more frequently experienced more prolonged treatment duration than White women. However, low SES and other barriers were associated with prolonged treatment duration across both groups. Thirty-two percent of Black women less than 50 years of age experienced prolonged treatment duration compared with 22.3% of younger White women. Among Black women 50 years and older, 27.9% experienced prolonged treatment duration compared with 19.9% of older White women. 

Addressing one hurdle alone may not increase access to care for Black women. Rather, healthcare providers need to identify and address the complex barriers affecting patient access to care and prolonged course of care. 

References

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1.McDowell, S. (2022, Oct. 3). Breast Cancer Death Rates Are Highest for Black Women-Again: Breast Cancer Facts & Figures, 2022-2024. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/breast-cancer-death-rates-are-highest-for-black-women-again.html 

2. Emerson, M. A., Golightly, Y. M., Aiello, A. E., Reeder-Hayes, K. E., Tan, X., Maduekwe, U., Johnson-Thompson, M., Olshan, A. F., & Troester, M. A. (2020). Breast cancer treatment delays by socioeconomic and health care access latent classes in Black and White women. Cancer, 126(22), 4957-4966. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33121