A recent New York Times article sounds the alarm to draw attention to the rising rates of endometrial cancer among minorities, particularly Black women. Endometrial cancer develops in the lining of the uterus. This type of cancer is rarely talked about and the disparity in its diagnosis, treatment and outcomes among different groups has been overlooked in the past. Experts call for national dialogue and efforts to increase public awareness about this cancer.
Related deaths are increasing by almost two percent a year. More than 65,000 people are expected to develop endometrial cancer in 2022. Just 15 years ago, 39,000 people were diagnosed with this cancer. Doctors expect endometrial cancer will soon become the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among women.
This increase in endometrial cancer is greatest among Black, Asian and Hispanic women. Black women are twice as likely as white women to die of endometrial cancer, and this gap is widening. Black women also are more likely to develop an aggressive type of endometrial cancer, but that does not fully account for the disparity in survival rates.
While endometrial cancer is typically diagnosed at an early stage, it is more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage in Black women. Possible causes are the differences in diagnosis and treatment of Black women. Ultrasound is used to diagnose endometrial cancer, but it is not as effective at finding the more aggressive type, which is more common among Black women. Nor is ultrasound as useful at detecting cancer in women who are premenopausal or who have fibroids (which are also common among Black women).
Treatment for endometrial cancers varies. Black and Hispanic women are less likely to have a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus), a lymph node biopsy to see if cancer has spread or receive chemotherapy.
Raising awareness of the disease and its symptoms may increase the chances of detecting it at an earlier stage, when there are better treatment outcomes.
Read our review for more about endometrial cancer, its symptoms and who is impacted.