The Fidelis Care Blog

Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Screening
10/25/2022 • Posted by Dr. Sharon McLaughlin, Dr. Kathie Rones, Dr. Nicole Belanger-Reynolds in In The Community, Women's Health


Breast cancer is the most common malignancy affecting women. In the United States, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Although significant advancements in early detection and treatments have reduced the overall mortality rate, not all racial groups have benefitted equally. The incidence of late-stage diagnosis and overall mortality remains higher among certain minority groups, especially Black women.


What do we know

  • The mortality (death) rate which is the number of people who died of cancer per 100,000 people in a year is higher for Black people compared to white people. Taken age into consideration, the breast-cancer mortality is about 40% higher among Black women than among non-Hispanic women.
  • White women. For the same stage of breast cancer, Black women have a higher mortality.
  • Black women have shown to have a delay in treatment.
  • Black women are less likely to seek surgery compared to women of other racial groups. Mistrust of the medical community has been shown to influence how Black women manage their health.
  • The 5-year survival rate, which is the percentage of cancer patients who have not died from their cancer at 5 years after diagnosis, is higher for white women compared to Black women.
  • Low-income women have less access to early breast cancer screening and, therefore, a greater probability of late-stage diagnosis.


What are the factors that play a role in disparities?

  • Low income or worry about cost
  • Lack of access to care and transportation
  • Lack of knowledge of breast cancer risks and screening methods
  • Lack of childcare
  • Unable to miss work
  • Cultural and language differences
  • Lack of a recommendation to have a mammography
  • Longer periods of time in-between mammograms


What can help improve racial disparities

  • Insurance coverage. The screening prevalence, which is the percentage of people who have been screened for a certain kind of cancer, is higher for insured women compared to those who do not have insurance.
  • Offer to schedule cancer screenings
  • Reduce paperwork
  • Expand screening hours
  • Provide transportation
  • Provide translation services
  • Provide child care