publication date: Oct. 27, 2017

ACS: Access and socioeconomic factors affect racial disparities in breast cancer mortality rates

By Matthew Bin Han Ong

The disparity in survival outcomes between black and white women with breast cancer—the result of a complex interaction of biologic and nonbiologic factors—can be reduced by increasing access to health care in all U.S. states, researchers from the American Cancer Society concluded in a recent study.

The paper, “Breast Cancer Statistics, 2017, Racial Disparity in Mortality by State,” was published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The article provides an overview of female breast cancer statistics in the U.S. and compares breast cancer death rates between black and white women for all 50 states.

The researchers used population-based cancer incidence data collected by the NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Program of Cancer Registries.

From 2006 through 2015, death rates decreased in all racial and ethnic groups. However, higher breast cancer death rates continued in non-Hispanic black women, compared to non-Hispanic white women. Mortality rates were 39 percent higher in black women in 2015. By state, excess death rates in black women ranged from 20 percent in Nevada to 66 percent in Louisiana.

Importantly, breast cancer death rates were not significantly different in black and white women in seven states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Nevada, Delaware, Minnesota, and Washington. This, perhaps, reflects an elimination of disparities or, possibly, a lack of statistical power, researchers concluded.

It is worth noting that Massachusetts, with the lowest mortality rate ratio of 1.08, was the first state to provide health care insurance coverage to a majority of its residents in 2006.

“Improving access to care for all populations could eliminate the racial disparity in breast cancer mortality and accelerate the reduction in … Continue reading ACS: Access and socioeconomic factors affect racial disparities in breast cancer mortality rates

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