It’s not new news: Black women have a lower cancer incidence rate than White women but are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer 

What is news though, is that breast cancer is now the No. 1 cancer killer of Black women.  

If there’s a silver lining in this fact, the shift is due to the decline in the number of lung cancer deaths due in part to the decrease in Black female smoking.  

Still, Black women have little to celebrate. The wide disparity in breast cancer death rates between Black and White women likely reflects fewer cancers being diagnosed at a localized (early) stage (57% in Black women compared with 67% in White women), as well as less access to high-quality treatment. Cancers diagnosed at a later, more advanced stage are typically more complicated to treat. 

Black women have a lower five-year survival rate overall and for every stage of diagnosis. About 82% of Black women live at least five years after their initial breast cancer diagnosis, compared to 92% of White women.

Higher death rates from breast cancer among Black women are also likely related to:

Higher prevalence of obesity and other health problems. Black women are statistically more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, and are less likely to breastfeed after childbirth—all of which are risk factors for breast cancer. 

Young African American Women 

Among women under 50, the disparity is even greater: The mortality rate among young Black women, who have a higher incidence of aggressive cancers, is double that of young White women.  

Those more aggressive cancers include triple-negative breast cancer, which is aggressive and challenging to treat. They also have a higher incidence of inflammatory breast cancer, an aggressive but uncommon type of breast cancer. (Learn more about these cancers this page)  

Source: American Cancer Society