Breast cancer diagnosis rates are nearly identical in black and white women, according to a study conducted by the American Cancer Society and published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Although black women have historically had lower breast cancer rates when compared with white women, those cancer diagnoses have traditionally led to higher death rates—data show that in 2012, death rates in black women were 42% higher.

An estimated 231,840 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2015. Of that number, an estimated 40,290 women will die from their diagnosis. Between 2008 and 2012, breast cancer diagnosis rates were stable among white women; among black women, that rate increased by 0.4% per year. Research has shown that black women are more likely to be diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer—an aggressive subtype of breast cancer accounting for 12% of all cases—and are also more likely to be diagnosed during the later stages of their cancer.

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Overall, black women are more likely to die from breast cancer at every age. The American Cancer Society continues to emphasize the importance of early detection and suggests that all women take the following steps to prevent breast cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and excess weight increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Exercise regularly. Women who are physically active have a 10% to 25% lower risk of breast cancer, compared with women who do not exercise.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol increased breast cancer risk by 7% to 10% for each drink per day.
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking increases a woman’s breast cancer risk, especially among heavy, long-term smokers and those who begin smoking before giving birth to their first child.
  • Get a mammogram yearly between the ages of 45 and 55, and get a mammogram every other year after age 55.


  1. Ward EM, DeSantis CE, Lin CC, et al. Cancer statistics: breast cancer in situ. CA-Cancer J Clin. 2015; doi: 10.3322/caac.21321
  2. Breast cancer facts & figures: 2015-2016. Published October 29, 2015. American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Ga. Accessed October 29, 2015.