Breast Cancer Death in Blacks Linked to Genes

Advocates now worry environmental, social factors will be ignored
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2009 2:41 PM CDT
A standard mammogram, left, and molecular breast imaging.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The higher risk of death from breast cancer for black women may depend more on differences of biology than environmental factors, the Baltimore Sun reports. Research shows that black women are up to 49% more likely to die from the disease than white women, even when patients receive the same treatment. And those who argue that the disparity is due to lack of primary care and socioeconomic factors are worried.

“People might say, we don’t have to worry about getting adequate care to blacks, because it doesn’t matter. It’s all biology,” one expert frets. Doctors have tried to puzzle out the disparity for years—though more likely to die, the incidence of breast cancer is smaller in black women. Some have chalked it up to culture. “Even women who had insurance, they didn’t want a mammogram,” a black survivor says. “They just didn’t want to know.”