NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 20, 2006

Black women living in Chicago are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women in the city, according to a study by the Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI).

SUHI Director Steve Whitman and colleagues examined data from the Illinois State Cancer Registry, the state Department of Public Health and Center for Disease Control's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 2003, and found:

  • The mortality rate for black women diagnosed with breast cancer in the city was 73 percent higher than the mortality rate among white women
  • There were 40.5 breast cancer deaths per 100,000 black women in Chicago in 2003, compared with 23.4 breast cancer deaths per 100,000 white women.
  • Nationwide, the breast cancer mortality rate among white women is 25.2 per 100,000 cases, compared with 34.6 deaths per 100,000 cases among black women.

Although the cause for the disparity is unclear, medical experts have given several hypotheses for the difference:

  • Genetics, the inability to afford routine mammograms, limited access to medical facilities and a lack of awareness about breast self-examination could be contributing factors.
  • In addition, the "less-than-optimal quality" of mammograms performed on black women might help contribute. 
  • Black women also might receive delayed or less-effective treatment after diagnosis compared with white women.

Source: Judy Peres, Ronald Kotulak and Peter Gorner, "Study finds race disparity in breast cancer mortality rates," Chicago Tribune, October 17, 2006.


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