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15:11 PM

CNN: Racial disparities receding for women with breast cancer

A recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at instances of breast cancer between black and white patients and showed that racial disparities between these two populations are receding.

According to the report, black women have historically have had lower rates of breast cancer diagnosis that white women, but, since the 1980s, higher rates of death from breast cancer. Breast cancer remains the most common cancer diagnosed in U.S. women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among them. Women under age 50, regardless of race, benefit from early stage treatment. The report found that death rates for black and white women under 50 have decreased slightly in recent years.

However, racial differences remain in breast cancer patients over age 50. The report noted a faster decrease in breast cancer death rates for white women at -1.9 percent per year, while the death rate for black women was -1.5 percent per year during a four year period from 2010-2014. In addition, during this same time period, the incidence of breast cancer among black women increased. reporter Susan Scutti reached out to Deepa Halaharvi, DO, a breast surgeon with OhioHealth Breast and Cancer Surgeons, to find out why this might be the case.

"Local cancer is just in the breast; regional has gone to the lymph nodes," Halaharvi told CNN. During the interview, she pointed out that the researchers discovered that more black women (34%) than white women (28%) are diagnosed with regional breast cancers.

"What that tells you is African-American women are getting diagnosed at much later stages," Halaharvi said. She says a reason for this may be that some of these women may be neglecting their mammogram screenings.

OhioHealth recommends women follow the current National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines below. Mammography has proven to save lives through early detection.

  • Screening mammogram beginning at age 40 for all women
  • An annual clinical breast exam by a doctor
  • Monthly breast self-exams
  • Specific mammogram screening guidelines can be discussed with your OhioHealth physician

Women should talk to their doctors about the screening that is right for their individual needs. Women at high risk for breast cancer may need more frequent or earlier mammogram screening.

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