what is breast cancer?
In our Breast Cancer Hub, learn the basics about this specific type of cancer along with disparities seen in patients of minority races, news, and clinical trial information. Read on to start understanding breast cancer, learn terms like HER-2 and triple-negative, and to get on the road to achieving equitable healthcare.
Breast cancer is a cancer that forms in the tissues of the breast that can spread to the lymph nodes under the arms. In later stages, the cancer spreads to the bones and organs when the cancer starts to metastasize, also known as metastatic breast cancer. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which begins in the lining of the milk ducts (thin tubes that carry milk from the lobules of the breast to the nipple). Lobular carcinoma is another type of breast cancer that starts in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast. Invasive breast cancer is a type that spreads from where it began in the breast ducts or lobules to surrounding normal tissue. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), medullary carcinoma, tubular carcinoma, mucinous carcinoma, metaplastic breast cancer (MBC), papillary breast cancer, and Paget disease of the breast or nipple are other less common types. Breast cancer occurs in both men and women, although the occurrence of male breast cancer is rare.
Although breast cancer survival and screening rates have improved, incidence rates are higher among women of color, and these women are diagnosed at a later stage more often. Triple-negative breast cancer (HR-/HER2-) is a more aggressive and difficult-to-treat breast cancer subtype, rates are highest for Black women compared to all other racial/ethnic groups—almost two times higher than the rate for white women. And young Black and Latinx women living in low socioeconomic status areas have a higher occurrence of more aggressive breast tumors linked to lower survival rates.
Professor Dorothy Roberts, JD discusses a 2007 study indicating that black women in Chicago had a lower rate of breast cancer than white women, but a higher death rate from the disease.
In 1980, the death rate of both Chicago groups was the same, but diverged dramatically over the next two decades. Black women's death rate didn't increase; it was white women's death rate that decreased by 50% over that period.
The conclusion is that inequity in access to diagnosis and treatment resulted in the survival disparity between these groups of women.
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In the clinical trials process, researchers aim to further test their latest breast cancer treatments to ensure they are effective and safe. Clinical trials phases are split into Phase 1 through Phase 4, with some trials being a combination of two phases. Though people of color make up 36.3 percent of the U.S. population, only 15 to 20 percent participate in clinical trials. Trials make an excellent option for receiving the standard or latest treatment usually at no charge for the treatment itself.
Visit this page to learn the latest news about breast cancer treatment, research and more. Supplied with this information, you can work toward getting the best and equitable healthcare and treatment for you or your loved one.