Breast Cancer Survival Rates – A Widening Racial Gap

Holy Hormones Journal:  Don’t women suffer enough without suffering from a disparity in health care? For shame. Women need to take of care of their sisters.  It is surely not going to come from the medical complex.  If one woman suffers – we all suffer. Never forget this.

Tackling a Racial Gap in Breast Cancer Survival

The New York Times
By December 20, 2013

Mary Singleton, 57, learned in July that she had Stage 4 breast cancer. .Cover photo by Ruth Fremson.

Mary Singleton, 57, learned in July that she had Stage 4 breast cancer. .Cover photo by Ruth Fremson.

MEMPHIS — After her doctor told her two months ago that she had breast cancer, Debrah Reid, a 58-year-old dance teacher, drove straight to a funeral home. She began planning a burial with the funeral director and his wife, even requesting a pink coffin.

Sensing something was amiss, the funeral director, Edmund Ford, paused. “Who is this for?” he asked. Ms. Reid replied quietly, “It’s for me.”

Aghast, Mr. Ford’s wife, Myrna, quickly put a stop to the purchase. “Get on out of here,” she said, urging Ms. Reid to return to her doctor and seek treatment. Despondent, Ms. Reid instead headed to her church to talk to her pastor.

“I was just going to sit down and die,” she says.

Like many other African-American women in Memphis and around the country, Ms. Reid learned about her breast cancer after it had already reached an advanced stage, making it difficult to treat and reducing her odds of survival. Her story reflects one of the most troubling disparities in American health care. Despite 20 years of pink ribbon awareness campaigns and numerous advances in medical treatment that have sharply improved survival rates for women with breast cancer in the United States, the vast majority of those gains have largely bypassed black women.

The cancer divide between black women and white women in the United States is as entrenched as it is startling. In the 1980s, breast cancer survival rates for the two were nearly identical. But since 1991, as improvements in screening and treatment came into use, the gap has widened, with no signs of abating. Although breast cancer is diagnosed in far more white women, black women are far more likely to die of the disease.

And Memphis is the deadliest major American city for African-American women with breast cancer. Black women with the disease here are more than twice as likely to die of it than white women.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.