Black women have a slightly lower incidence of breast cancer than white women, but their death rate from the disease is 41 percent higher. Even more alarming, until 1980 there was no racial difference in rates of death from breast cancer.
How did this happen? Epidemiologist Steven Whitman explains:
“the black rate hasn’t changed at all in twenty-five years while the white rate has halved. The improvements in the white rate began to take place just as we began to figure out how to do early detection with mammography. We also began to learn more about treatment-developing medicines and radiation therapy. White women were able to take advantage of these improvements and black women 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 breast cancer mortality from any of our advances…One hundred and ten black women die each year from breast cancer simply because the black rate is not the same as the white rate…It’s literally a matter of life and death.”
- quote taken from Dorothy Roberts amazing book on race, medicine and politics (Fatal Invention)