Black women are dying needlessly from breast cancer in the United States at the rate of nearly five women per day. The annual death toll is 1,722. These figures were discovered during a recent study commissioned by the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Forum and simultaneously published in Cancer Epidemiology. The report titled “2012 Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer Study” found that 21 of the 25 largest U.S. cities have a black/white disparity in breast cancer mortality.
The study, funded by Avon and conducted by Sinai Urban Health Institute, is the first national study to examine the racial disparity in breast cancer mortality at the city level in the United States. The researchers analyzed breast cancer deaths reported between 2005-2007 against seven societal risk factors, including race, poverty level and racial residential segregation. The authors conclude that societal issues such as poverty and racial inequities, cause most of the disparity and genetic factors comprise a very small portion of the disparity. The cities with the most disparity are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Dallas, Jacksonville, Columbus, Memphis, Seattle, Boston and Denver with Memphis having the largest disparity and San Francisco, the smallest disparity of the 25 largest cities.
“For 20 years the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade’s mission has been to ensure all women, regardless of their race, income level and ability to pay, have access to the best quality breast health care. Although we have made much progress in this mission, the results of the 2012 Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer Mortality Study demonstrate that we still have much more work to do. Access to quality care is a matter of life or death for far too many U.S. women and the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade will persevere until all women have access to the advances made possible by improved breast cancer screening and treatment,” said Marc Hurlbert, Ph.D., executive director of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.
Here are four key recommendations to prevent breast cancer deaths: