The breast cancer mortality rate continues to decline in the U.S., but a wide racial gap remains, according to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS). Between 2011 and 2017, the breast cancer death rate decreased 1.3 percent annually, compared to 1.9 percent annually between 1998 and 2011. The slight downtick in mortality decline between the two time periods might be due in part to optimal breast cancer treatment becoming more widespread, especially among white women.
While the death rate has decreased steadily across all racial groups in recent years, black women are still 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women (28 vs. 20 deaths per 100,000 in 2017)—and among black women under age 50, the death rate is double that of white women under 50.
Overall, the breast cancer death rate has dropped by 40 percent over nearly three decades (1989 to 2017), which translates into a reduction of 375,900 breast cancer deaths, the ACS estimates. After lung cancer, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in U.S. women.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Racial Gap in Cervical Cancer Deaths.