Researchers have discovered stark differences in breast cancer outcomes between black women and white women. Differences in financial resources and access to medical providers account for much of the delays in diagnosis and treatment for black women in Illinois.
Higher death rates
Overall, black women die more often from breast cancer compared to their white peers. This occurs even though black women are diagnosed with the disease at somewhat lower rates than white women. As of 2019, 125.4 people per 100,000 black people got breast cancer whereas white people were diagnosed at a rate of 130.3 cases per 100,000.
Financial barriers to care
Many black women live in poverty, which lessens their chance of having health insurance. Even if insured, the additional expenses for medical care not covered by a health plan force these women to:
- Skip mammograms
- Delay treatment, like surgery or chemotherapy
- Skip follow-up treatment
Reduced access to medical providers
Living in poverty also correlates with have fewer nearby places to receive medical care for diagnostics or breast cancer care specifically. Financial strain reduces a person’s ability to drive to clinics or get an appointment without insurance. A woman may not have a vehicle or cannot take time off of work because her family cannot endure an income interruption.
Biases among healthcare workers
On top of socioeconomic factors, black women may experience discrimination in medical settings that discourages interactions with the health care system. Researchers have concluded in multiple studies that black people experience more misdiagnoses or have their concerns dismissed by medical workers.
In this environment, black women with breast cancer sometimes receive care that is not meeting clinical standards. Medicines may also have shortcomings due to the lack of black women participating in medical trials.