Understanding Breast Cancer in Black Women: Part 1 – A Look at Income
Doctors have found that black women with breast cancer are more likely to:
- Die from breast cancer
- Have their breast cancer return (this is called recurrence)
- Die from other diseases present before the cancer
Prognosis is an educated guess of how likely a person will survive their cancer. Doctors use a number of facts to make this guess:
- The type of cancer
- The location of the cancer
- The patient’s age
- How healthy the patient was before cancer
- The stage of the cancer (how much it had grown or spread when it was first diagnosed)
- The ability of the cancer to continue growing
The last three points are especially important for Black women. They explain why Black women often get worse prognoses. These are also reasons why Black women are less likely to survive breast cancer.
Our bodies are most healthy when we eat healthy, exercise, and have access to healthcare. Doing all of these things can also be pricey. Studies show that African Americans often make less money each year than White Americans. Less pay may lead to worse health.
More African Americans may find it more difficult to:
- afford healthy foods
- afford gym memberships
- live near stores with fresh produce
- live in a neighborhood where they feel safe
- exercising outdoors
- afford the costs of healthcare
- get regular mammograms (tests that find breast tumors)
This means that greater numbers of African Americans may find it harder to eat healthy or get regular exercise and check-ups. Less access to mammograms and doctors’ visits also explains why Black women are often diagnosed with breast cancers at later stages. Later stage cancers are harder to treat and more likely to spread to other areas of the body.
What does this mean?
Black women are more likely to have lower incomes, which may affect:
- Their diet and ability to exercise
- Their ability to reach a health care facility or afford health care
- The chance that their cancers will be found and treated early enough to cure
For more information:
Go to the Breast Cancer health topic.