from Dorothy Roberts, Fatal Invention
“White women in Chicago are slightly more likely than black women to get breast cancer, but black women are twice as likely to die from it. That is a startling statistic by itself. But what is equally as shocking is that in 1980 Chicago’s black and white breast cancer mortality rates were identical: black and white women died at the same rate.”
Searching for an explanation, Roberts interviews Steven Whitman, director of the Sinai Urban Heath Institute. Whitman explains,
“The improvement in the white rate began to take place just as we began to figure out how to do early detection with mammography…White women were able to take advantage of these improvements and black women were not at all. So what you have is a stunningly painful observation that in twenty-five years black women have gained nothing, not one iota, in terms of beast cancer mortality from any of our advances…every week in Chicago, a little more than two black women on average die from breast cancer just because of the disparity. It’s literally a matter of life and death.”
What prevents black women from getting the kind of cancer care available to white women? As Dorothy Roberts and Whitman suggest, one major barrier is access to mammography.