Black Women Have Higher Death Rates From Breast Cancer

Armen Hareyan's picture

Black women in Houston, Texas,have a 45% greater mortality rate from breast cancer than white women,according to a new study, the HoustonChroniclereports (Ackerman, Houston Chronicle, 2/4).

The study was presented at the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Forum, which tookplace this month in Houston.Steve Whitman, director of the Sinai UrbanHealth Institute,led the study, which is similar to research he did on black women and breastcancer in Chicago(Avon Foundation release, 2/5).


According to the Houstonstudy, for every 100,000 women, 40.8 black women and 28.2 white women died frombreast cancer in 2004. In 2000, 34.3 black women and 30.4 white women for every100,000 women died from breast cancer.

Whitman said that the study suggests that the disparity is related to access tocare, including mammography and treatment. He added, "The racial disparityin breast cancer mortality rates in Houston,like elsewhere, is a symptom of a broken health care system. The systemdelivers the benefits of recent advances in breast cancer treatment to whitewomen, but not black women."

In response to the study's findings, local health experts are starting a taskforce, which will study the issue for about a year and then issuerecommendations. The task force also will decide whether to expand the study tolook at death rates from breast cancer among Asians and Hispanics, according totask force leader Lovell Jones, director of the Center for Research on Minority Health at the University of Texas M.D.Anderson Cancer Center. Jones said, "Knowing the city, I expected thesesort of figures. I'm more curious about what's accounted for the fluctuationsin the rates over the years" (Houston Chronicle, 2/4).

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