Many Black women face roadblocks that delay breast cancer treatment

A number of obstacles can stand in the way of Black women receiving timely breast cancer treatment, including lack of insurance, transportation access and financial strain, reports STAT

An abundance of research has highlighted the healthcare disparities that persist between Black and white women, with STAT citing a recent study that found breast cancer treatment delays were prevalent across all socioeconomic levels among Black women, while mostly low socioeconomic status was linked to treatment delays among white women. 

Tamiko Byrd was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2015, and chemotherapy treatments left her too weak to continue working. After beating the cancer in 2016, she wasn’t yet well enough to get back to work, leading her to lose her job and health insurance. Ms. Byrd couldn’t apply for Medicaid for another year, and the consequence was missing all of her medical appointments. 

“When you don’t have the proper income, or the proper knowledge, or the proper access, and your tumor biology is a challenge, it all adds up to you not doing well,” Karen Jackson, founder and CEO of Sisters Network, an African American breast cancer survivor organization, told STAT

Cancer treatment center parking fees, public transit prices and filling up the gas tank to reach a distant healthcare facility are all burdens that disproportionately affect Black patients, according to STAT. All of these hurdles are exacerbated in those who are underinsured or have no insurance.  

Going forward, gathering individual patient experiences and recognizing the barriers Black women face after a breast cancer diagnosis may help address these long-standing disparities, researchers told STAT

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