Breast cancer in American continues to affect black women more harshly, causing more problematic tumors resistant to standard therapies and higher death rates, particularly among women under age 40.
Here are some key statistics from the Annual National African American Breast Cancer Conference, sponsored by the Sisters Network, Detroit, Oct. 21-22, 2016.
1. Breast cancer rates stabilized between 2002 and 2011 in white women, but continue to increase among black women.
2. Black women are almost 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer compared to white women.
3. African American women with breast cancer are less likely than white women to survive five years after diagnosis. The survival rate among African American women is 71 percent, compared to 86 percent among white women.
4. 22% of African American women do not follow up to get a biopsy after an abnormal finding on a test, compared to 14% of white women.
5. 34% of African American women with breast cancer are under-treated, following national guidelines, compared to 16 % of white women.
6. 15% of all women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer have potentially more aggressive triple-negative tumors, but 30% of black women with invasive breast cancer have these triple-negative tumors. Factors that put women at risk of having triple-negative tumors include: younger age at first childbirth; little or no breastfeeding; obesity/higher body mass index; and earlier periods.
7. African and African American women are more likely to have a sub-type of triple negative tumors where a stem cell, ALDH1, grows out of control. Research continues on this sub-type in hopes of developing more targeted, not generalized, treatments.