Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Why Is Breast Cancer More Deadly for Black Women ?????

Surfing the net this evening, I'm struck by the number of images there are of white women with breast cancer compared to black women. While it may be true that in the Western world, more white women are diagnosed each year with breast cancer than black women, according to a recent study, Black British women are often diagnosed at an earlier age with the disease, it is more likely to be triple-negative - which means that their tumours are not oestrogen, progesterone or her2 sensitive and there are therefore fewer treatment options available for them, and it is more likely to be aggressive. They are more likely to die from the disease and at an earlier age. Scary. Most scientists would point to obvious contributing factors like poverty, lack of education and biological differences as reasons behind these sobering facts. I've just keyed in 'black woman' and 'breast cancer' and 'blog' just to see if there might be any like-minded individuals out there in a similar situation to me. There doesn't seem to be much, apart from lots of worrying articles about African-American women being diagnosed at an advanced stage and lots of triple-negative references. I wonder why there are so few resources which cater for us. There is obviously a need. I'd love a website that specialised in afro wigs for alopoecia and chemotherapy-induced hairloss. Not sexy subjects I know, but it might make this journey just a bit easier. I'd like someone to tell me how I make sure my wig stays on my head if I have no hair. I'd like beauty and make-up tips that cover how to deal with patchy eye-brows and skin discolourations. But beyond beauty, I'd really like to connect to a community of women who might have had a similar upbringing and sense of cultural identity as me. I'm sure they must exist out there and will keep on looking until I find some. I'll keep you posted.


  1. I'm glad I read this post because recently in consultation with my BC nurse I highlighted the same thing.. Hope ur keepin well....

  2. Thanks Sarah, nice to hear from you. Am busy, but well ! Hope you're doing good too. Cx

  3. Hi

    I had a quick look at pubmed for you: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22250182

    This paper which was just published this month found that for triple negative cancers there are no difference in survival outcomes between white/black or other races...

    Contributing factors is a different matter - which no one knows for sure yet but survival outcomes are the same regardless of race.

  4. Hi YogaSeeker and thanks for your comment. That paper seems to focus on triple negative breast cancer which although is more prevalent in black women, doesn't tell the full story. There is a social stigma associated with cancer in many non-white cultures (cultures which tend to be more faith-based and so more dependent on spiritual guidance). Many black women (particularly older ones) are reluctant to seek medical advice after finding a lump. Factors involving fear of being blamed or ostracised by other members of the community account for some of the reasoning behind this. Late discovery of disease is always associated with poor prognosis. Biologically speaking, recent studies in the UK have revealed that black women tend to be diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age than white women - often as much as ten years - no-one knows why. Breast cancer is often more aggressive in younger women and therefore often has a worse prognosis. There have been calls to offer younger black women screening at an earlier age because of this. More research needs to be done to discover why these disparities exist.
    Thanks for connecting. C.

  5. Hi Coral

    No problems - I think it is a really worthwhile thing to break up "women" into further different sub-groups including ethnicity and if research exists to prove that black women could benefit from earlier screening it should be more widely published.

    Do you have links to referencing these studies? Im interested to take a look at them --

  6. Hi Yogaseeker, Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. I'm currently in the process of putting all the research studies that I've found on this site. Will let you know when I've done it. In the meantime, I found this article very interesting: