Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Breast Cancer’s disproportionate impact on women of colour

Breast cancer incidence, diagnostic, treatment, and prognosis discrepancies are more pronounced among women of colour.

Breast cancer is a formidable adversary that affects women across the globe, but its impact is not felt equally among all demographics. Women of color, in particular, face unique challenges and disparities in breast cancer incidence, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes.

Regardless of colour or ethnicity, breast cancer is the most often diagnosed type of cancer among women. Compared to White women, women of colour experience higher mortality rates and later diagnosis.

However, there has been comparably little study on how racial or ethnic minorities deal with breast cancer at the time of diagnosis, during treatment, or throughout survivorship. Despite the fact that numerous studies have demonstrated how distress can affect both the course and outcome of disease.

Higher mortality rates and advanced stage diagnosis

Women of color often experience higher mortality rates from breast cancer compared to their white counterparts. This alarming discrepancy can be attributed, in part, to disparities in early detection and access to healthcare.

Factors such as limited access to quality healthcare facilities, cultural barriers, and socioeconomic disparities can lead to delayed diagnoses and more advanced stages of cancer at the time of diagnosis.

Genetic and biological factors

Certain genetic and biological factors contribute to the unique breast cancer landscape in women of color.

For instance, women of African, Latino, and Native American descent are more likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive subtype that is often associated with poorer prognosis.

Genetic predispositions and distinct tumor characteristics require tailored approaches to screening and treatment.

Socioeconomic factors play a significant role in shaping breast cancer outcomes for women of color. Limited access to healthcare services, including regular screenings and timely treatment, can hinder early detection and optimal care.

Financial constraints may also impact a woman’s decision to seek medical attention promptly, further exacerbating the disparities in outcomes.

Cultural beliefs and stigma

Cultural beliefs and stigma around breast cancer can influence women of color’s perceptions of the disease and their willingness to seek medical help. Some communities attach shame or fear to cancer diagnoses, leading to delays in seeking necessary care.

Raising awareness and providing culturally sensitive education can play a pivotal role in dispelling myths and promoting early detection.

Limited access to healthcare services, including insurance coverage and transportation, can impede women of color from receiving the necessary screenings, diagnostic tests, and treatments.

Addressing these barriers is essential in bridging the gap in breast cancer outcomes.


The disparities in breast cancer outcomes among women of color underscore the need for targeted interventions and comprehensive strategies.

Addressing barriers in healthcare access, raising awareness within communities, and advocating for equitable representation in research are all critical steps toward narrowing the gap in breast cancer disparities.

By recognizing the unique challenges that women of color face and working collectively to eliminate barriers, we can strive to ensure that every woman receives timely, effective, and compassionate care in the fight against breast cancer.

By Parvathy Sukumaran

Parvathy Sukumaran is a Content Creator and Editor at JustCare Health. She is an Educator and a Language Lecturer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education and an M.A in English Literature. She is passionate about writing, archaeology, music and cooking.

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