Racial disparities in the treatment of black women with breast cancer in the United States
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Breast cancer affects over three million women in the United States, but this disease burden is not shared equally across all races. Black women, in particular, are diagnosed with more advanced cancer at a younger age and experience a disproportionately high mortality rate compared to white women. Factors that contribute to such disparity include socioeconomic status, tumor biology, age, insurance status, comorbidities, obesity, patients’ reproductive history and barriers to quality care. These factors alone, however, do not account for all the racial differences in mortality and outcomes experienced by black women. There is a growing body of literature that indicates black women are not receiving the same treatment and care as white women. Black women are less likely to receive surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy than white women. Black women are also more likely to experience delays in the initiation of treatment, early discontinuation of treatment and overall guideline non-concordant care. The current literature has presented widespread racial disparities in the treatment of black women with breast cancer. Future research needs to focus on tangible interventions such as physician bias training and patient navigators to mitigate the inequity of care in the treatment of breast cancer.
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