Quality of Care May Be Biggest 

Factor in Different Survival

A study by National Cancer Institute (NCI) researchers, published in the journal Archives of Family Medicine in November 1999, revealed an alarming increase in the already troubling gap between black and white mortality rates due to breast cancer, from 16 percent in 1990 to 29 percent in 1995. And the NCI data show that the five-year survival rate for black women with breast cancer is 71 percent, compared with 87 percent for white women.

Experts have traditionally explained the discrepancy in survival rates by noting that African-American women tend not to seek help until their cancers are already at an advanced stage. But the authors of the NCI report found that mortality among black women during the 1960s and 1970s was actually lower compared with that of whites. In 1981, mortality for whites began to drop sharply in response to more aggressive screening programs and better chemotherapy protocols.

And that leads to a disturbing conclusion, says Dr. Otis Brawley, one of the study's authors: that African-American women have somehow been cheated out of the advances that have taken place over the past 20 years in mammography, chemotherapy and powerhouse drugs such as tamoxifen.

Thanks to Cable News Network (via Breastcancer.net)

Cancer Rate Decreases in U.S. Blacks

Report from the American Cancer Society 10/19/00 Mortality still higher than whites

Older Black Women Now Have Higher Death Rates

Journal of the American Public Health Association, 1/01

Racial/Ethnic Minorities Receive Less Appropriate Cancer Treatment

JNCI, 3/5/02

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