Breast cancer mortality rates decreased for both white and black women from 2000 to 2014, but the decrease was slower for black women, according to a report by investigators with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mortality rate decreased an average of 1.9% per year for white women, compared with an average decrease of 1.5% per year for black women, in an analysis of data from United States Cancer Statistics (USCS). Between 2010 and 2014, breast cancer mortality was 41% higher among black women (29.2 deaths per 100,000 people) than among white women (20.6 deaths per 100,000 population), reported Lisa C. Richardson, MD, and her associates at the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion ( MMWR. 2016 Oct 14;65[40]:1093-8 ).

During 1999-2013, breast cancer incidence decreased among white women but increased slightly among black women, resulting in a similar average incidence at the end of the period. However, differences were found by age and stage. Compared with white women, breast cancer incidence was higher among black women over 60 years old, but lower among black women 60 years of age and younger. Black women had a lower percentage of breast cancers diagnosed at a localized stage (54%) than did white women (64%), Dr. Richardson and colleagues reported.

Between 1999 and 2004, mortality rates decreased only for white woman older than 50 years.

USCS includes incidence data from the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, and mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System.

“When combined with population-based approaches to increase knowledge of family history of cancer, increase physical activity, promote a healthy diet to maintain a healthy bodyweight, and increase screening for breast cancer, targeted treatment interventions could reduce racial disparities in breast cancer,” the investigators said. “A fuller understanding of [breast cancer’s] exact mechanisms might lead to more tailored interventions that could decrease mortality disparities.”

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