Researchers and scholars acknowledge that there have been recent improvements in breast cancer survival rates in the United States. However, disparities in breast cancer mortality and outcomes based on race/ethnicity and socioeconomic factors remain, exposing the deep need for targeted interventions to help eliminate barriers to quality health care.
The disparities are deepest between African American and White women—studies demonstrate that although White women have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer than African American women, African American women have a higher breast cancer mortality rate than White women. Additionally, research shows that poverty, less education and not having health insurance are all factors that are associated with lowered breast cancer survival rates.
Importantly, recent studies have also suggested that the disparities in breast cancer outcomes between African American and White women are greater in Chicago than they are in the country as a whole. This suggests that highly-targeted, localized interventions are needed to address the unique needs of women in Chicago.
The Affordable Care Act has made care available for many women in our community. However, while it may have opened the door for more women to access preventive services, there exists an ongoing need to improve educational resources and access to quality preventive services and screenings, such as mammography.
Experts state that it will take several years to gather and analyze data surrounding the impact of the Affordable Care Act on breast health disparities; now is the time for action to help ensure that women in our communities are able to access the preventive resources and care they need to improve their breast and overall health.
On Sept. 25, 2014, the Women’s Health Awareness Council met to discuss these important issues. Included below are presentation slides from panelists and a toolkit containing data, perspectives and key research studies.