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Health Agencies Update
December 26, 2012

Breast Cancer Disparities

JAMA. 2012;308(24):2557-2557. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.150909

Black women have higher mortality rates from breast cancer than white women, according to a Vital Signs report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (http://tinyurl.com/cq297hk).

Despite improvements over the past 2 decades in breast cancer screening and treatment, significant disparities persist. The breast cancer incidence rate between 2005 and 2009 remained lower among black women than white women, with a rate of 116.9 cases per 100 000 black women compared with 122.1 per 100 000 white women. But black women are more likely to be diagnosed at a late stage (45% vs 35%) and are more likely to die of the disease. According to the CDC, if the death rate among black women (27 deaths per 100 breast cancers) decreased to the same rate as that for white women (18 deaths per 100 breast cancers), it is projected that 1800 fewer black women would die each year. The researchers argue that disparities must be addressed at each stage of the screening and treatment process.

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