Where Breast Cancer Kills the Most

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Map of the US showing breast cancer hot spots for Hispanic women

Fewer new breast cancer cases occur annually among Hispanic women in the United States than non-Hispanic White and Black women. But breast cancer is the top cancer-related cause of death for Hispanic women.

While general breast cancer disparities by race and income are well-understood, little research highlights differences by locations as granular as counties. In a June 2018 report, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis discussed their county-level findings of breast cancer deaths across the United States between 2000 and 2015. They used data from the 2014 County Health Rankings to identify areas with particularly high observed mortality, compared to the expected rate of death from breast cancer.

As the figure depicts, the researchers found that counties with significant risk of breast cancer mortality among Hispanic women were heavily concentrated in the south and southwest. About 51 of the 83 hot spot counties (61%) were located in the south.

A closer look revealed that compared to other counties, these counties had more Hispanic residents; fewer residents in these hot spots had insurance. They also smoked less, and were less likely to receive mammography. Further, the risk of breast cancer mortality was almost 26% higher for Hispanic women in hot spots than for those living elsewhere.

The researchers suggest targeting state and local prevention to address specific issues like low insurance rates, advocating for affordable screening options, and emphasizing quality treatment in hot spot areas may help diminish some gaps that exist in breast cancer mortality.

Map: Figure 3: Breast cancer mortality hot spots, among all Hispanic women in the contiguous United States, 2000–2015  from “Mapping hot spots of breast cancer mortality in the United States: place matters for Blacks and Hispanics,” Justin Xavier Moore, Kendra J. Royston, Marvin E. Langston. Russell Griffin, Bertha Hidalgo, Henry E. Wang, Graham Colditz, Tomi Akinyemiju, Cancer Causes & Control (2018) 29:737–750, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10552-018-1051-y

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