Florida Study Shows Breast Cancer Death Rates Decreasing Faster For Black Women Than White Women 

Despite progress, the Florida study found that the breast cancer death rate for Black women remained higher than for White women.

The disparity gap in breast cancer survival rates between Black and white women in Florida is closing, but more work remains to be done, according to results of a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.  

“Over the past three decades, we’ve seen an improvement in breast cancer survival for all women — especially for minority women — which is encouraging,” said Robert Hines, PhD, MPH, associate professor of population health sciences at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and lead author of the study. “However, in the most recent time period, non-Hispanic Black women have twice the rate of breast cancer death compared to non-Hispanic white women.” 

Hines and his team conducted a study of  women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in Florida between 1990-2015, recorded by the Florida Cancer Data System. 

They found that breast cancer mortality has decreased over time for all racial and ethnic groups, and minorities had greater absolute and relative improvement for nearly all metrics compared to non-Hispanic white women, the study said. However, for the most recent time period in the study—2010-2015—Black women still experienced significant survival disparities, with non-Hispanic Black women having twice the rate of death from breast cancer five years and 10 years after diagnosis.  

“We need to celebrate the progress we make,” Hines said. “But we have a ways to go to produce equitable outcomes for women diagnosed with breast cancer.” 

Adjustment for other factors substantially reduced the excess rate of breast cancer death for Black women, however. 

When the researchers adjusted the mortality data for age, insurance status, census-tract poverty, tumor stage and grade at diagnosis, and treatment received, the 10-year relative rate of breast cancer mortality for Black women—which was twice as high as for white women prior to for the adjustment—decreased to 20 percent higher than white women.  

“These factors, as a group, explained a lot of the disparity, but in order to have the most impact, we need to tease out the individual factors that are most responsible,” Hines said.