Although the rates of death from breast cancer have fallen, the American Cancer Society reported that black women were still more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Breast cancer deaths declined by 39 percent between 1989 and 2015 as more advances in breast cancer treatments were made. However, survival rates between black women and white women started to change in the early 1980s and never improved.
Part of the reason is that different types of tumors develop in white and black women. For example, white women develop higher rates of HR+/HER2- breast cancers while black women tend to develop triple negative tumors. This latter type of breast cancer is more difficult to treat. Further, black women have less access to effective breast cancer treatments, like Tamoxifen, which can improve the chances of survival.
Another reason survival rates of breast cancer for black women are worse is that they are less likely to have access to early detection strategies, including preventive breast cancer screenings. This often means that breast cancer is diagnosed at a more advanced stage, leading to a poorer prognosis. Finally, poverty is more likely to prevent black women from obtaining proper healthcare. This may be due to a lack of transportation and the inability to take time off from work.
The failure to diagnose breast cancer in a timely manner can result in a worsened medical condition and a poor prognosis. Not every such error constitutes medical malpractice, however. An attorney for the affected patient will have to demonstrate that the harm was caused by a failure on the part of the practitioner to exhibit the requisite standard of care.