WEDNESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors have made great strides in fighting breast cancer, but not everyone is benefiting equally: Black women, in particular, are 40 percent more likely to die from the disease than any other racial or ethnic group.
So said health officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a special report released Wednesday.
Although breast cancer rates have been dropping during the past 20 years, "black women are diagnosed with breast cancer at lower rates than white women, and yet [blacks] have higher death rates," CDC deputy director Ileana Arias said during a noon press conference.
"As a public health official and as a woman, I find these disparities in breast cancer deaths unacceptable," she added.
Arias said two main factors account for this disparity. First, "there are unacceptable gaps in timely, adequate and appropriate health care," she said. "The second is the difficulty women have in navigating our complex health care system."
For the report, the CDC team collected data on new breast cancer cases from 2005 through 2009. The cases were reported in the CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program. The researchers also compared these cases with deaths from the National Vital Statistics System.
Better treatment and earlier diagnosis are likely responsible for 50 percent of the overall drop in breast cancer deaths, the report authors said. Black women, however, don't seem to be receiving the same quality of care for breast cancer as white women, the report noted.
"This fatal disparity must end," Dr. Marcus Plescia, director of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said during the press conference.
Plescia said there's a lag for too many black women in receiving care once they've gotten a b
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