A new report from the American Cancer Society finds that breast cancer rates among African-American women in the United States are increasing. For decades, African-American women had been getting breast cancer at a slower rate than white women, but that gap is now closing.
The findings are published in Breast Cancer Statistics, 2015 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and in Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2015-2016. The reports, published every 2 years, provide detailed analyses of breast cancer trends and present information on known risk factors for the disease, factors that influence survival, the latest data on prevention, early detection, treatment, and ongoing research.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, after skin cancer. It accounts for nearly 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed in women. By the end of 2015, an estimated 231,840 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and an estimated 40,290 women will die from breast cancer.
As of January 2014, more than 3.1 million women living in the U.S. had a history of breast cancer. Most of them were cancer-free, while others still had evidence of cancer and may have been undergoing treatment. Breast cancer death rates have dropped 36% since 1989, which translates to 249,000 breast cancer deaths averted.
From 2008 to 2012, breast cancer incidence rates increased 0.4% per year in black women and 1.5% per year among Asian/Pacific Islanders while they remained stable among whites, Hispanics, and American Indian/Alaska Natives. By 2012, the rate at which black women were diagnosed with breast cancer caught up to the rate at which white women were diagnosed. However, differences exist among states. Incidence rates were higher in blacks than whites in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Even though black women have historically had lower incidence rates than white women, death rates among black women have historically been higher, and that has continued. In fact, the black-white disparity in breast cancer death rates has increased over time; by 2012, death rates were 42% higher in black women than white women. The authors of the report say that trend is expected to continue.
Black women are more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to be diagnosed at later stages and have the lowest survival at each state of diagnosis. They are also more likely to be diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive subtype that is linked to poorer survival.
Among the topics discussed in the Facts & Figures report regarding risk factors, prevention, and early detection:
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