Breast cancer remains the second most common cancer among women in the United States. In 2018, 254,744 new cases of female breast cancer were reported and 42,465 women died of this disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are especially pronounced, with Black and Hispanic women dying from the disease at higher rates than White women. In 2018, the number of newly diagnosed breast cancers among Black women was 29,661 (age-adjusted incidence of 121.2 per 100,000) compared with 207,932 (127.5 per 100,000) newly diagnosed breast cancer among White women; 6541 Black women died (26.8 per 100,000 women) of their disease compared with 32,275 (19.2 per 100,000) White women.

The authors of our cover story describe a case of a Hispanic woman who felt a lump in her breast, had a mammogram, and was told to follow up if anything changed. The medical history confirms she had no further mammograms and was seen 5 years later (by a different clinician) when she started experiencing skin changes (areolar skin thickening and nipple retraction) on her breast. At the time of her diagnosis, she had stage III triple-negative breast cancer.

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The 5-year survival rate for patients with regional triple-negative breast cancer is 65%, compared with an approximately 90% survival rate for localized triple-negative disease and other breast cancer types. With biannual or annual mammograms, this type of cancer can be caught earlier in high-risk patients.

Because breast cancer occurs at a younger age in Black women, some investigators are recommending that Black women begin screening mammography at age 40. Delaying screening mammography for women of color places them at a disadvantage, especially because Black women are more likely to present with triple-negative and ERBB2-positive subtypes.

We hope this article helps elucidate recent research in this area and provides a resource for improving breast cancer outcomes in women of color.

Nikki Kean, Director
The Clinical Advisor