Alarming Facts About African American Women and Breast Cancer

Did you know breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among black women?

Although breast cancer is diagnosed more often for white women, African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer, according to a recent study by the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Specifically, in women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African American women than white women.

Here are a few more facts about breast cancer and the action you can take today.

[Related: 4 Vital Tips on Cancer Prevention]

  • In 2015 alone, an estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed, along with 60,290 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer, according to SusanGKomen.org. Many studies indicate these decreases are due to the result of earlier detection through screening, treatment advancements, and increased awareness.
  • The breast cancer death rate for women aged 45–64 years was 60% higher for black women than white women, according to the CDC National Vital Statistics System.
  • The median age at diagnosis in African American women is 54 years, compared with a median age of 58 years in white women.
  • Most studies indicate that physically active women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than inactive women; however, the amount of risk reduction achieved through physical activity varies widely. There are many possible reasons for this difference in survival: Biologic and genetic differences in tumors, prevalence of risk factors, barriers to health care access, health behaviors, and later stage of breast cancer at diagnosis.
  • Breast cancer screening is important for all women. According to the American Cancer Society, mammograms should start at age 40 and continue for as long as a woman is in good health. As mammography screening rates have increased, more cases of breast cancer have been found at earlier stages, when chances of survival are highest.
  • Many insurance companies, including Medicare, cover the cost of mammograms. Additionally, organizations such as the Komen Foundation, provide low-cost or free mammograms. Find an affiliate Komen Foundation program in your area.
  • Each October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many imaging centers offer mammograms at reduced rates. Visit fda.gov for mammography facilities in your area. 

To learn more about breast cancer facts including risk, screening, and treatment, visit cancer.org.