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Despite having higher rates of cancer screenings, Black women continue to have a higher cancer mortality rate.

Black people are more likely to die from most cancers. Black people also live the shortest amount of time following a cancer diagnosis than any other racial or ethnic group. Additionally, more Black women die from breast cancer than from any other cancer1. There are many programs focused on cancer screening for early detection. However, based on the results of a cancer screening study by Patel and Karabon2, Black women are getting screened at higher rates than non-Hispanic White (NHW) women.

Using data from the 2016 and 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the study assessed trends in breast cancer screening between NHW and Black women in the United States. It sought to determine the national and regional differences in these two groups’ cervical cancer screening and mammograms. Idaho, Wyoming, and West Virginia were the only three states with significant data showing that NHW had a higher screening rate than Black women. In all but three states, Black women had a breast cancer screening rate of 82.24%, while non-Hispanic White women had a screening rate of 76.85%.

Healthcare providers should be aware that early cancer detection via cancer screening is not sufficient for lowering the mortality rate for Black women. Given the data, the study suggests a focus shift from cancer screenings to determining barriers impacting patients’ access to care to lower mortality rates for Black women who have breast cancer. Patient barriers can include cultural differences, and/or lack of access to high-quality medical care. Barriers such as these may need to be addressed when discussing access to follow-up care to facilitate better health outcomes for Black women.

References:

  1. ACS Medical Content and News Staff. (2022, February 14). More Black Women Die from Breast Cancer Than Any Other Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/facts-and-figures-african-american-black-people-2022-2024.html
  2. Racial Differences in Breast Cancer Screening Rates in the United States. Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. https://www.oakland.edu/Assets/Oakland/medicine/files-and-documents/educational-programs/Embark/2022/K.%20Patel.pdf
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