Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths among women aged 40–55 in the United States and currently affects more than one in ten women worldwide. It is also one of the most diagnosed cancers in women both in wealthy and poor countries. Fortunately, the mortality rate from breast cancer has decreased in recent years due to increased emphasis on early detection and more effective treatments in White population. Although the mortality rates have declined in some ethnic populations, the overall cancer incidence among African American and Hispanic populations has continued to grow. The goal of the present review article was to highlight similarities and differences in breast cancer morbidity and mortality rates primarily among African American women compared to White women in the United States. To reach our goal, we conducted a search of articles in journals with a primary focus on minority health, and authors who had published articles on racial/ethnic disparity related to breast cancer patients. A systematic search of original research was conducted using MEDLINE, PUBMED and Google Scholar databases. We found that racial/ethnic disparities in breast cancer may be attributed to a large number of clinical and non-clinical risk factors including lack of medical coverage, barriers to early detection and screening, more advanced stage of disease at diagnosis among minorities, and unequal access to improvements in cancer treatment. Many African American women have frequent unknown or unstaged breast cancers than White women. These risk factors may explain the differences in breast cancer treatment and survival rate between African American women and White women. New strategies and approaches are needed to promote breast cancer prevention, improve survival rate, reduce breast cancer mortality, and ultimately improve the health outcomes of racial/ethnic minorities.
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