Black women in Chicago more likely to die from breast cancer than white women

November 17, 2015

SUHI Director Steve Whitman and colleagues examined data from the Illinois State Cancer Registry, the state Department of Public Health and CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The researchers found that in 2003, the mortality rate for black women diagnosed with breast cancer in the city was 73% higher than the mortality rate among white women (Ritter, Chicago Sun-Times, 10/17).

There were 40.5 breast cancer deaths per 100,000 black women in Chicago in 2003, compared with 23.4 breast cancer deaths per 100,000 white women, according to the study.

Nationwide, the breast cancer mortality rate among white women is 25.2 per 100,000 cases, compared with 34.6 deaths per 100,000 cases among black women.

Although the cause for the disparity is unclear, medical experts have said that genetics, the inability to afford routine mammograms, limited access to medical facilities and a lack of awareness about breast self-examination might be contributing factors (Chicago Tribune, 10/18).

In addition, the "less-than-optimal quality" of mammograms performed on black women might contribute to the disparity, according to the researchers. Black women also might receive delayed or less-effective treatment after diagnosis compared with white women, according to the Sun-Times (Chicago Sun-Times, 10/17).

According to the Tribune, a health task force composed of experts in radiology, mammography, medical financing and other fields is scheduled to meet in January to determine how to reduce Chicago's racial disparity in breast cancer mortality rates (Chicago Tribune, 10/18).

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