Race does not appear to be a major factor in breast cancer survival
when information on stage of disease, income level, education,
and access to care also are reviewed, a number of studies show.
African-American women are at least one and a half times more
likely to be diagnosed with later-stage disease, says Dr. Lori
Pierce, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University
of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. "In addition, race
is frequently synonymous with poverty, and poverty is synonymous
with lower education level. This lower education, lower income
group has the least access to care," she says.
It's a vicious circle, says Dr. Pierce. "The best way to
break through the circle is to make mammography screening, quality
treatment, and treatment follow-up more available to African-American
women," she says.
Quality treatment also is essential, she says. "I've had
African-American women tell me they avoid screening for breast
cancer because they are afraid they'll have cancer, and cancer
means they'll have to have their breast removed," she says.