Black Women Disproportionately Have Worse Breast Cancer Outcomes

Although a similar number of women are diagnosed with breast cancer from both races, the mortality rate among black women is 42% greater than that recorded among white women across the United States. This dissimilarity doubles when comparing white and black women below the age of 45. The outset of this disproportionality in death rates has been traced to the improvement in breast cancer awareness, its discovery, and treatment.

This fall in the death rate among white women became noticeable in the 1990s, though the same cannot be said for minority women. Research carried out in Chicago by Sinai Health System in 2006 revealed that it is less probable for black women to undergo digital mammography in quality facilities and have their images inspected by specialists. Although a task force was constituted a year later to check this, a lot more work still needs to be done as death rate disproportionality still soars above 39%.

Legislation signed by Governor J.B Pritzker in 2019 directs health insurance companies to indemnify the cost of breast cancer screening via mammograms, ultrasounds, and so on. This legislation improves the availability of care but still fails to manage disparities caused by location differences and the absence of insurance. Emphasis should also be laid on the quality of available care; out of the 12 American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Centers present in the state, only two are on the South Side. These centers also contain more general radiologists than mammography specialists, increasing cases of missed cancers.

Also, various studies indicate that black women are not likely to get screened by 3D mammograms which are more effective than 2D mammograms at detecting cancers, even in healthcare facilities with both. Legislators in Chicago need to sign policies that ensure equality of healthcare resources by funding safety-net hospitals to provide adequate treatment and mandating them to get accredited by the American College of Surgeons.

Physicians should be enlightened on the effects of these racial disparities and encouraged to reduce bias. Cost-free mammography screening should be made available to all women irrespective of insurance status; more effort should be put into awareness to encourage women to undergo mammography regularly. Resources should be adequately distributed, policies and health institutions reformed to ensure proper care for black women in minority areas.

Source: https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-breast-cancer-black-women-disparity-20220104-t53seac33vgc3btjqd5xbnd7ya-story.html (subscription may be required)