Early Detection and Effective Treatment Improves U.S. Breast Cancer Mortality Rate

With earlier detection and more effective treatments, U.S. breast cancer mortality rates declined by 39 percent from 1989 to 2015. This is an improvement of the 38 percent decline in mortality rate from 1989 to 2014.

While the overall mortality rate improved, many communities still face challenges. African American women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than white women, but they are more likely to be diagnosed before age 40. (This was a change from age 45.) However, even with lower incidence rates, black women are more likely to die from breast cancer regardless of age when compared to white women.

In Colorado specifically, African American women in our 22-county service area were 33 percent more likely to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage than white women. Black women also face a 28 percent higher breast cancer mortality rate.

While Susan G. Komen celebrates improvements to the breast cancer mortality rate, Komen continues to work hard to close mortality rate gaps, like the ones African American women experience. It also remains focused on its Bold Goal: cutting breast cancer deaths in half by 2026. In order to achieve this goal, breast cancer mortality rates must continue to decline.

To realize this goal, Komen has placed more emphasis on medically underserved communities by promoting equity in early detection and access to and completion of effective treatment. In Colorado, there is a significant focus on Hispanic/Latina women who are not screened as frequently as non-Hispanic/Latina women. This lag in screening increases the risk of advanced-stage diagnosis.

With the goals to reduce late-stage diagnoses and decrease mortality gaps, Komen has also put more research dollars into prevention of and improved treatments for metastatic disease, an incurable breast cancer, which accounts for the majority of deaths from breast cancer.