Here’s How Deadly Breast Cancer is For Women of Color in the U.S.

The National Cancer Institute has begun a new campaign to raise breast cancer awareness among black women.

By Stokely Baksh Nov 01, 2011

While breast cancer is widely known as a particularly heartbreaking disease, reports have shown that the impacts on women of color, particularly African American women, are especially devastating. Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than any other group of women. To address this concern, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) released three videos targeting black women as part of its outreach to women of color for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In one video, breast cancer survivor Juanita Lyle tells her story. Lyle was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32, and has had to battle the disease a total of three times, along with one bought of skin cancer. "You can imagine being young and having menopause, going through all of the things that are supposedly the ‘old woman’s disease’ is very debilitating," Lyle says of her experience.

The NCI estimates that 230,480 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, while 39,520 women will die from in it 2011. And while the percentage in men is much smaller, 2,140 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, while 450 men will die from it this year. There are currently more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

According to the NCI, nearly 27,000 African American women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. And while they are less likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer, they are more likely to die from it than any other race — and more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage.

What’s the blame for such striking racial disparities? Lack of medical coverage, unequal access to improved treatments, and barriers to early detection and screening, the NCI has noted. Across the board, the death rate for all cancers combined is 25 percent higher for African Americans than for whites.

Below is a look at just how deadly breast cancer is for women of color. For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute for more information.