A new study in Cancer Epidemiology confirms a sad truth about America's health system: Black women with breast cancer are more likely to die than white women with breast cancer. Part of the reason is that black women tend to get a more aggressive form, writes Harold Freeman in the New York Times, but the surgeon and former president of the American Cancer Society says a more troubling factor is at play: White women generally get faster, better treatment—and CDC studies show that to be true even when insurance policies are similar.
"i don’t think this is because doctors are racist, but rather that they make assumptions about race that can be harmful," writes Freeman. "For example, a specialist treating a poor black woman may doubt that she will comply with a complex treatment and recommend a simpler, but noncurative, therapy instead." He lauds ObamaCare's push to make health insurance easier to get, but that won't mean much if what happens after diagnosis continues to differ along racial lines. "People should not die from cancer because they are poor or black," writes Freeman. "This is more than a medical and scientific issue. This is a moral issue." Click for his full column. (Read more women's health stories.)