Black Women Face Barriers to Breast Cancer Treatment, Study Finds

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Kara-Marie Hall, RN, BSN, CCRN


Key Takeaways

  • Recent research shows Black women are less likely to be offered hypofractionated radiation therapy as an option for breast cancer treatment.
  • Black women face several inequalities that start from the moment they seek a diagnosis.
  • Access to breast cancer treatment can depend on trust, awareness, and financial resources.
  • Improving healthcare for Black women with breast cancer will require a collaborative approach.

Breast cancer treatment has come a long way, but it appears that some populations may be getting left behind. According to a September study published by the Red Journal, Black women are 15% less likely to be offered hypofractionated radiation therapy, an increasingly popular breast cancer treatment, than White women.1

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although Black women and White women get breast cancer at about the same rate, the breast cancer mortality rate is 40% higher for Black women. Additionally, Black women are more likely to have more aggressive breast cancers with a higher chance of recurrence.2

Beyond the fact that breast cancer tends to be a more biologically aggressive disease in African American [women] than in White women, this disparity in breast cancer mortality also reflects social barriers that disproportionately affect African American women,” Ogori Kalu, MD, a general surgeon at Saint Michael’s Medical Center in New Jersey, tells Verywell.

What This Means for You

In order to treat cancer, it’s important to have access to a timely and accurate diagnosis as well as adequate treatment options. However, for many Black and minority women, obstacles such as finances or lack of awareness lead to insufficient access to health care. If you or your loved one has breast cancer, ask your doctor for more information to help you make decisions regarding your health. Reach out to breast cancer advocacy groups for further support.