Taking in account the present state of ecology, stressful, hasty and often unhealthy way of life, cancer can be regarded as one of the most prevalent illnesses of modern times. There is a certain disparity between disease statistics for males and females, which also varies for different countries, but breast cancer among women is the most widespread kind of carcinoma globally. Due to certain multilateral premises, African American women present a significant stratum in breast cancer statistics.
As well as any other type, breast cancer possesses a range of peculiarities. “Health Guide” of The New York Times defines breast cancer as such that starts in the tissues of the breast and points out two main types of it: ductal, which starts in the tubes and is the most frequently occurring type, and lobular, affecting the milk-producing organ of the breast. It is also mentioned that cancer of breast type does not necessarily have to start from this organ, though such cases are rare. Such a characteristics as invasiveness is applicable to breast cancer, too. Relations between the two types are revealed through one-way transition: non-invasive state (in situ) can be changed into the invasive one, if left unattended, but the opposite change is not possible. The most common symptoms characteristic for this disease include formation of lumps in the area of armpit, different size and shape changes of the nipple and appearance of unusual fluids coming from it. Doctors maintain that mostly these symptoms are left practically unnoticed by women due to their low intensity at the early period of disease development. As for the treatment, it depends largely on the stage the illness was on when diagnosed. It is noted, however, that no treatment can guarantee that the disease will not return to the same nidus or another one. The other experts maintain a more positive view claiming that breast cancer is the kind of the disease which is the most treatable of all carcinomas affecting women (Williams, 2012).
Risk groups for this disease are crucial to mention. Most of scientists investigating this problem agree that the dangers can come from the genetic predisposition, a medical history containing incidents of previous benign tumors, and also a range of problems caused by hormonal shifts and connected with natural aging processes in the organisms of women and some weight factors. Acquired factors also include alcohol abuse. Statistic shows that changes in various aspects of marital life, connected with social shifts of the last centuries, also affect the risks. They include, for example, such general tendencies as delaying of childbearing and decision to have smaller amount of children, which reveals the age characteristics for breast cancer risk groups. Screening for early diagnosis is considered to be one of the most effective ways to prevent the transition of the disease into the incurable state, according to most of the findings. Thus, as breast cancer is a frequent illness, knowledge about it and ways of its prevention should become a social norm if society wants its female population to stay healthy for the next generations.
Statistics on breast cancer is various and has been accumulating for a long time. If calculating globally, The New York Times claims it has been estimated that during the lifetime 1 in 8 women will be set this diagnosis. America with its developed chain of official institutions and numerous support groups regarding this issue has plenty of data at its disposal. 2011 statistics gathered and summarized by DeSantis, Siegel, Bandi and Jemal suggests that 1 out of 3 cancer diagnoses reveal this particular type among women in United States. This aspect concerns incidence rates, and as for mortality rate, breast cancer is the second popular lethal case catalyst among American women. Statistic shows that the older the women, the higher the chances for developing breast cancer are. In the same way, those females living in affluent areas die of cancer less frequently than those living in the poor ones (the shift apparent since 1990’s), which demonstrates the disparity in mortality rate caused by purely economic factor. Even increased mammography utilization could not influence this change. What concerns ethnicity factor, findings of the authors show that certain tendencies can be delineated in this regard. Specifically, they maintain that from 2004 to 2008 “the average annual female breast cancer incidence was highest in non-Hispanic white women and lowest for Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders”. At that period such characteristics were stable. Mortality rates, however, present a different picture: 2003 through 2007 African Americans presented the group with the largest amount of deaths caused by this disease (32.4 lethal cases per 100,000 women). Vanessa Williams from The Washington Post claims that “the difference in mortality began to emerge in the early 1980s”, and although figures were decreasing for both groups, African American women tended to maintain death rates 41 percent higher than white women. In such a way, social-economic standing becomes one of the aspects of breast cancer statistics.
What concerns prevalence of breast cancer among black women, one can define some tendencies within the limits of the USA. High mortality rate shows that African American women are mostly diagnosed at later stages of the disease when nothing much can be changed. This factor has a definite social nature inherent to it. Obviously, black women either obtain less information about the dangers of this illness, or reveal low acknowledgement levels, or, which is most tragic, are not provided with enough facilities for diagnosing and prevention on early stages. Naturally, if not diagnosed early, tumor begins to develop to more aggressive forms, leading to the lethal outcome. Williams maintains that it is fear which contributes to a sad statistics that although African-Americans “are less likely than white women to get breast cancer, black women are more likely to die from it”. The journalist tries to explain it by resorting to official data revealing that in America, on the contrary with the widespread opinion that good or excellent health self-rates are the same for black and white women, reports show that women of color display a larger amount of health problems, the likeliness of not being insured is also high among them and, most importantly, they are recorded to have resorted for doctor’s consultations for preventive care in fewer cases. Moreover, if referring to risk factors, one cannot leave unnoticed that obesity rates are higher among African American women. Williams claims that this condition is “more common among black women than among white women, or men of either race”. It contributes to the likeliness of getting this disease in a considerable way.
Apart from quite clear or at least scientifically proven statistics, there are still aspects in such a race disparity that can find no medical explanation. One of them is a fact that “black women are twice as likely as other women to get a diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer” (Williams, 2012). According to observations, estrogen-receptor-negative type of breast cancer is also more frequently found within the African American female group. Scientists still cannot present explanation to these phenomena. However, it should be noted that African American medical community does not intend to leave such a burning problem unattended. In 2012 “Black Women’s Health Study” newsletter not only the pathogeny of triple-negative breast cancer is described at length, but also the directions of the future research on it are outlined. For every woman expressing consent tumor tissue blocks will be retrieved during the operation and transferred to examination. Physical activity and reproductive factors, as well as genetic predisposition, will also be in focus of the outlined investigation on its further stages. As this type of cancer is considered to be both pertaining to the domain of black patients and the most deadly of all, the value of the research and the possible preventive measures which can be generated in its outcome cannot be underestimated.
Probably, society does not always get the true-to-life information, and the existence of such a biased attitude can be a sign of poor managing of certain racial problems. On the other hand, African American women themselves contribute to aggravating the problem. It is instilled in their mentality that a lot of people depend on their being healthy (Williams, 2012). Such denying attitudes confessed by the women of color personally may also present some insights to the issue. Strangely, a lot of media targeted on black women does not pay enough attention to covering of the problems of breast cancer prevention. It cannot be left unnoticed, however, that some experts dealing with this problem go as far as asserting that the roots of such statistical inequity in the racial respect lie in the past of the country: “they display historically unhealthy relationship between African Americans and a medical system that was inaccessible” (Williams, 2012). This uncomfortable truth does not seem to be something everybody would be glad to hear, but it at least can set certain directions of measures that can be applied in future in order to diminish the prevalence of the most deadly kind of cancer among all women irregardless of their social standing or racial adherence.
Williams: “poverty and racial inequities” – the key reasons introducing such kind of disparity
Quoting the results of the researches conducted in the same year, she claims that the role of genetics in this disparity is minor. It reveals tight connections between cancer statistics for African American women and both social and psychological factors. In such a way, there is little evidence that adherence to a certain race only can be a risk factor. Concentrating on the thought that skin color only can increase danger of getting the disease reflects negatively on the whole society, thus creating additional biases and problems. Doctors maintain that women themselves can to a considerable measure eliminate certain risks, in such a way erasing all the unnecessary fears and different kinds of disparities, but the health-care community should also be active and facilitate the improvements. Taking into account that the development of medical technologies turned breast cancer into the most treatable kinds, the whole society must understand that even such a diagnosis is not a death sentence. Connecting this idea with high mortality rates among black women triggered by low early-stage detecting, one may assert that only mutual efforts of the health-care institutions and awareness of women can change the existing statistics for better.
Breast cancer is the one affecting organs within the breasts. Practically the same characteristics as for any other type of cancer (invasiveness, structural differences and specific typology, as well as clear symptoms accompanying certain stages) pertain to it. The factor that considerably differs breast cancer from other types of carcinoma is its frightening prevalence proved by both global and nation-wide statistics. Across the USA, the highest rates of breast cancer mortality are held by African American women. Researches show that such a tendency may rather be explained by social and economic factors, including lower acknowledgement levels for black women and existence of certain psychological and social barriers inhibiting consulting the doctor. Apart from that, awareness is not facilitated by substantial coverage of the problem by media oriented at African American audience. These factors lead to the emergence of a specific statistics, according to which incidence rates are moderate, and it is mortality rate that is headed by women from this race group. Medical characteristics inherent to the race are unlikely to be the factors promoting the prevalence of breast cancer among black women.