A Possible Explanation for the Higher Mortality Rate for Black Women With Breast Cancer

breast-cancer-ribbonA new study led by researchers at the University of California at Irvine finds that for women diagnosed with breast cancer, Black women wait longer to have surgery than White women. The researchers examined the medical records of 8,860 women, ages 15 to 39, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer is rare in women of this age group but when it does occur, it typically progresses more rapidly than it does in older women.

The results showed that 8 percent of White women took six weeks or more to have surgery or start chemotherapy. But 15 percent of Black women waited six weeks or more for treatment. For patients who eventually opted for surgery, 90 percent of women who waited less than two weeks after diagnosis were alive five years later. For women who waited six weeks or more before surgery, 80 percent survived for at least five years.

The study was led by Hoda Anton-Culver, professor of epidemiology at the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine. She holds a Ph.D. from St. Andrews University in Scotland. The research, entitled, “Delay in Surgical Treatment and Survival After Breast Cancer Diagnosis in Young Women by Race/Ethnicity,” was published on the website of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It may be accessed here.

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  1. Unlike the White CEO of a well known hospital who went to surgery one week after her breast cancer diagnosis, I struggled in the process of finding a surgeon who would see me ASAP. When I did find one, I had to prompt the surgeon to schedule my surgery. It is not always up to the African American patient or any patient to gain immediate treatment. Although I have not read the entire research study, the brief article entitled “A Possible Explanation for the Higher Mortality rate for Black Women with Breast Cancer” implies that African American women may be the cause of the delay in the scheduling of their cancer surgeries. In most cases appointments and the scheduling of surgeries are in the hands of the doctors and hospitals. In my case, the doctor delayed mine. When writing/researching about the possible causes of more deaths of AA women, please do not leave out the fact that some African Americans are often not a priority for prioritized care. Therefore, that may be another reason for the cause of their demise.

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