Investigation of Causes of Higher Mortality among African American Breast Cancer Patients
Breast Cancer Scan

Course Objective

  • Describe how the temporal trends in breast cancer incidence and mortality compare between African Americans and European Americans in the past 30 years.
  • List the potential causes of growing racial disparity in breast cancer mortality.
  • Provide rationale for targeting patients or the health care system in order to reduce the excess breast cancer death rate among African Americans.

Date: November 10, 2015

Reviewed June 30, 2020

Kitaw Demissie, MD, PhD
Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology
Director, Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities
Rutgers School of Public Health, Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences

In this webinar, Kitaw Demissie reviews prominently cited causative factors and confounders that produce the longstanding high mortality trends seen in African American breast cancer patients as compared to Whites/European Americans. Place (urban vs suburban environment), race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and family history influence many African American individuals’ self-efficacy to screen for and readiness to accept a breast cancer diagnosis. Differential care and later-stage diagnoses also affect mistrust of provider ability and honesty regarding treatment regimens, becoming barriers to African American women’s uptake and adherence to breast cancer treatment. Demissie reviews quantitative research and qualitative triangulation data to assess these factors influencing diagnosis and treatment. He suggests African American breast cancer survivors may have a convincing role to play in future research and interventions directed toward encouraging adherence and early diagnosis.

Region 2 Public Health Training Center