Women’s Health: Cancer disparities in Black women

Women's Health

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Black people in America are more likely to develop cancer than other races and/or ethnicities. They have shorter survival rates and higher rates of death, according to the American Cancer Society.

Although breast cancer was diagnosed at similar rates among Black women as Caucasian women from 2012-2016, Black women had a 40% higher mortality rate based on information collected from the Centers for Disease Control and reported on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

“What we do know is that when African American women develop breast cancer there’s a higher percentage of them developing triple-negative breast cancer in comparison to the other racial subtypes,” said Dr. Ajaz Kahn, an oncologist with Saint Peter’s Health Partners.

Patients diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer are subject to a poorer prognosis. The cancer is considered to be more aggressive, is more likely to spread to other areas of the body, is less responsive to hormone therapy, and has less targeted medications to treat it, according to Breastcancer.org.

Higher mortality rates are also tied to stomach cancer. Black women are two times more likely to be diagnosed with stomach cancer and 2.2 times more likely to die from it than Caucasian women, said the Office of Minority Health.

The four most commonly diagnosed cancers in Black women are breast, lung, colorectal, and uterine. The American Cancer Society said together they represent 54% of all new cancer diagnoses among Black women.

Black women can reduce their risk of a cancer diagnosis by reducing the amount of alcohol consumed, quitting smoking, getting more exercise, and reducing body weight. It’s also important to keep up with mammograms, colonoscopies, and cervical cancer screenings said, Dr. Kahn.

To help overcome financial barriers, the Cancer Services Program of the Greater Capital Region offers free breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings to eligible patients. The program is available at Saint Peter’s Health Partners. Patients can call 518-525-8680 or visit Saint Peter’s website for more information.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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