You've probably heard the statistics about breast cancer in the United States:- More than 200,000 cases diagnosed and more than 40,000 deaths each year
- More than three million survivors
- One in eight women will be diagnosed in her lifetime
- Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member who has been diagnosed with it
But were you aware that women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds have differing levels of risk?
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and most common cause of cancer death among Hispanic women in the US.
- Although White women have a higher incidence of breast cancer than African-Americans, African-American women have a 44 percent higher mortality rate, irrespective of the age at diagnosis.
- About 15-20% of all breast cancers in the US are "triple negative" breast cancers (i.e. they lack the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and HER-2/neu). Triple negative breast cancer occurs more often in younger women, African American women, and women with BRCA1 gene mutations. It tends to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer and is more lethal in African American women than White women.
Judith E. Wolf, MD
Associate Director, WHEP