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Mo. Breast Cancer Rates Decline, But Racial Disparities Continue


Kansas City, MO – Breast Cancer is on the decline in Missouri. But while the gap is narrowing between African Americans and Whites for overall cancer diagnoses, the mortality rate for African Americans with breast cancer remains higher. That's according to new information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. KCUR's Elana Gordon reports.

The seven year study found that the number of new breast cancer cases decreased by about one percent and that the overall mortality rate from the disease decreased by about one and a half percent. Mario Schootman, a professor at Washington University, headed the study and says the decline is partly due to changes in hormonal therapy and increases in breast cancer screenings across the state. But he also says the main decreases in breast cancer occurred among White women and that the mortality rate was much higher among African American women.

Schootman: The disparity, the difference between African Americans and Whites is actually increasing over time. For example in the year 2005, African Americans had a 46% higher likelihood of dying from breast cancer than whites.

Schootman says many factors contribute to this difference, including insufficient screening, delays in seeking medical care, and lack of insurance. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued the report as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The agency recommends that women forty and older get a mammogram and a clinical breast cancer exam once a year, and that women between the ages of twenty and thirty nine get a breast exam once every three years.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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