• Arizona

    Breast cancer now leading cause of cancer death in African American/Black women

a Black woman in a patient gown being prepared by a medical assistant for a breast mammogram

A new report by the American Cancer Society indicates that breast cancer has now surpassed lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among Black women. The news is one of the key findings in Cancer Statistics for African American/Black People 2022, published this week.

“African American women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer early when compared with Caucasian women, and unfortunately have three times the morality rate,” says Sabrina Sahni, M.D., an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

While in college, Jessica Florence found a lump on her right breast. The 21-year-old initially did not believe what she found was serious until she was in pain and experiencing other symptoms.

"When I think of breast cancer, I think of, you know, an older woman ― 40 or 60 ― but not 21 or 22," says Jessica.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (2:00) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please courtesy "Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

“As health care providers, it is prudent that we focus on new efforts to address health disparities, socioeconomic barriers, and access to cancer prevention,” says Sandhya Pruthi, M.D. a physician in the Breast Diagnostic Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. “Collectively we can improve awareness of the disproportionate cancer burden in African American/Black women and implement practice initiatives to close the gap on breast cancer deaths.”

“We need to make sure that African American women have access to the downstream care — better surgery, better radiation oncology, better medical oncology care — in order to overcome this disparity and give them just as good of an outcome as everybody else in our country,” says Donald Northfelt, M.D. an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “There are many things we need to work on and correct in order to overcome this disparity and bring our African American patients to the same level of success that everyone else is achieving in breast cancer care in the United States, today. We are working on that diligently at Mayo Clinic.”


About Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
Designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer InstituteMayo Clinic Cancer Center is defining new boundaries in possibility, focusing on patient-centered care, developing novel treatments, training future generations of cancer experts, and bringing cancer research to communities. At Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, a culture of innovation and collaboration is driving research breakthroughs that are changing approaches to cancer prevention, screening and treatment, and improving the lives of cancer survivors.

About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news. For information on COVID-19, including Mayo Clinic's Coronavirus Map tracking tool, which has 14-day forecasting on COVID-19 trends, visit the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Resource Center

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