Study: For Black Women With Breast Cancer, Segregation & Other Factors Linked To Worse Outcomes


Racial disparities in breast cancer diagnosis and survival rates may have more to do with women’s living environments than their races, suggests a new meta-analysis of recent research on the topic by, from left, graduate student Brandi Patrice Smith and professor Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, both in the department of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois.

L. Brian Stauffer/University of Illinois

A new review finds that segregation, poverty and lack of access to health care facilities are linked to lower rates of survival for African-American women with breast cancer. 

Thousands of studies on breast cancer have looked at how a person’s race can affect both when they get diagnosed -- and their chance of survival. But only a few have explored how racial disparities are connected to other factors, like where women live.

“If you’re living in poor neighborhood conditions, it’s going to have a negative effect on your outcomes" or the stage at which you get diagnosed, said University of Illinois doctoral student Brandi Patrice Smith.

Smith is the lead author of a new review, published in the journal Hormones and Cancer, that aggregates the findings of studies involving more than 93,000 black women in Illinois and across the U.S.

She found that even in low-income neighborhoods with new economic development, black women were still at greater risk of a late-stage diagnosis.

She said it might seem counter-intuitive, but many urban areas lack the specialized services cancer patients need.

“Mammogram facilities are usually in the suburban areas of urban areas," Smith said. "And African-American or low-income women usually reside in the inner-city area, so it’s harder for them to get to these suburban areas where the mammogram facilities are usually located.”

Smith said she plans to conduct a similar study on African-American women in rural areas, and hopes her research will lead to policy changes that promote health equity.

Hear the full interview with Brandi Patrice Smith on SoundCloud:

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

Story source: WILL