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Nov 03, 2015 01:01 AM EST

Breast Cancer Rates On The Rise Among Black Women

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Breast cancer rates among African American women are continuing to increase, converging with rates among white women and closing a gap that had existed for decades, according to a recent study. 

Although black women in the United States were more likely to die from breast cancer, for decades, they have been less likely to get the disease than white women.  However, according to a new report, they don't seem to have that health advantage anymore, CBS News reported.

From 2008 to 2012, breast cancer incidence rates increased in African American women (0.4% per year), and among Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.5% per year), while they remained stable among whites, Latinos and American Indian/Alaska Natives. In 2012, overall breast cancer incidence rates converged between blacks and whites as a result of increasing incidence rates in black women and stable rates in white women.

"For a while we've seen the increase in black women and stable rates in white women," Carol DeSantis, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society who led the study, told NPR. "Even though we'd seen the trend, it's sort of shocking."

Notably, rates were higher in blacks than whites in seven states: Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Mortality rates continued to be higher in black women than in white women, despite historically lower incidence rates among black women. The black-white disparity in breast cancer death rates has increased over time; by 2012, death rates were 42 percent higher in black women than white women. Researchers surmise that this trend is likely to continue -- at least in the near future -I n view of the increasing trends in breast cancer incidence rates in black women.

Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among U.S. women, accounting for nearly one in three cancers. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death among women after lung cancer. Approximately 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 40,290 deaths are expected among women in the United States this year.

The findings are detailed in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

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