Breast Cancer in African American Women: Nursing Essentials

By Underwood, Sandra Millon | ABNF Journal, January/February 2006 | Go to article overview

Breast Cancer in African American Women: Nursing Essentials


Underwood, Sandra Millon, ABNF Journal


Abstract: Breast cancer impacts all population groups. However, when measures of mortality and length of survival are compared by racial/ethnic groups, African American women are noted to bear a disproportionate burden. In an era where evidence-based practice is the standard, it is imperative that nurses engaged in practice with women within acute care and community-based settings, have a breadth of knowledge of the anatomy and pathophysiology of breast cancer, are knowledgeable of the standards of breast care, and knowledgeable of the availability and accessibility of breast care resources within their service area. This report provides an overview for nurse of trends in breast cancer morbidity and mortality among African American women, breast cancer pathology, breast cancer screening guidelines and breast cancer clinical practice recommendations.

Key Words: Breast Cancer; African American Women; Nursing Essentials

Breast cancer, one of several diseases in which malignant cells arise from tissues in the breast, is the most common form of non-skin cancer experienced by women. Breast cancer accounts for approximately 32% of all the cancers diagnosed among women. It is estimated that about 58,490 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer and about 211,240 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women in the United States in 2005 (American Cancer Society [ACS}, 2005). Research suggests that women of average risk have about a 1 in 7 (13.4%) chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in their lifetime.

Breast cancer is exceeded only by lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer death in women. Breast cancer accounts for approximately 15% of all cancer deaths in women. It is estimated that about 40,410 women will die from breast cancer in 2005 in the United States (ACS, 2005). The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman's death is reported to be about 1 in 33 (3%).

Improvements in breast cancer screening and treatment have lead to significant reductions in breast cancer morbidity and mortality. The increased use of breast cancer screening with mammography has led to significant increases in the rate of diagnosis of non-invasive early stage breast cancer. According to reports of the National Cancer Institute Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Program (NCI SEER), the rate of non-invasive early stage breast cancer among women of all races and all ages was 19.1 per 100,000 in 1990 and 33.6 per 100,000 in 2002 (Ries, Eisner, Kosary, Hankey, Miller, Clegg et al., 2004). The rate of invasive breast cancer among women of all races and all ages was 131.6 in per 100,000 in 1990 and 132.9 per 100,000 in 2002 (Ries et al., 2004).

Similar trends have been noted in breast cancer mortality and survival. The overall death rate from breast cancer among women of all races and all ages was reported by the National Cancer Institute Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Program to be 33.1 per 100,000 in 1990 and 25.5 per 100,000 in 2002. The overall 5-year survival of invasive breast cancer was reported by the NCI SEER Program to be 84.9 in 19989-1991 and 88.2 1995-2001.

BREAST CANCER FACTS AND FIGURES FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN

Breast cancer impacts all population groups. However, when measures of mortality and length of survival are compared by racial/ethnic groups African American women are noted to bear a disproportionate burden. The American Cancer Society projected that an estimated 19,240 new cases of breast cancer and an estimated 5,640 deaths from breast cancer will occur among African American women in 2005 (ACS, 2005).

The overall rate of newly diagnosed breast cancer is significantly lower in African American women compared with the rate of newly diagnosed breast cancer in white women. According to reports of the NCI SEER Program, the rate of non-invasive early stage breast cancer among white women of all ages was 34. …

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