In three decades the US breast cancer rate dropped 43%, yet racial disparities remain

In three decades the US breast cancer rate dropped 43%, yet racial disparities remain

Maria Zaya Rosario, Herald Staff

Remarkably, breast cancer death rates have dropped 43% from 1989 to 2020. However, Black women still continue to be more likely to die from the disease despite having lower incidents. Health and science is advancing every day, but why aren’t Black people and their studies not considered in the advancement of medical science?

“Death rates are declining in Black women, just like they are in almost every other group, but we’re still seeing the same gap,” said Rebecca Siegel, senior scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society and senior author of the report. According to the data, Black women are still the highest demographic impacted by the disease, with death rates reaching 40%. 

It was found by the researchers from the American Cancer Society that the incidence of breast cancer has risen slowly since 2004, by about 0.5% per year. This was driven mostly by diagnosing the disease early and more quickly at a localized stage. 

Another leading health physician, Dr. Samuel Cykert, also weighed on the matter. He said that one of the causes includes “the fact that the gap is still there and doesn’t surprise me because people haven’t focused on it to do something about it.”

Women whose breast cancer is detected at an early stage have a 93% or higher survival rate in the first five years. Breast cancer found due to symptoms tends to be larger and more advanced. 

In contrast, breast cancer found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of breast cancer and how far it has spread are two of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis or outlook of a woman with the disease.

Ensuring that Black women have the same access to hospitals, breast cancer screenings and adequate treatments as white women is key. It is all about letting human beings have their rights and treating them equally. 

Acknowledging the problem is also key to solving this issue. Society has the jobs to spark and have a say to situations like this. 

Black women having the highest death rate is not a problem without a solution nor a difficult one. “You really need two things: You need a system change that acknowledges that there are disparities and care and outcomes,” Cykert said. 

There are different ways to diagnose breast cancer, such as self exams with your own hands: circular motions, wedge shaped movements and up and down movement. You can also detect it by visual changes like shape size, skin color and texture, nipple color, texture, shape and vein patterns.