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A new report released by the American Cancer Society has some good news for women everywhere: Between 1989 and 2015, the breast cancer death rate dropped nearly 40 percent, preventing 322,600 deaths. To give you some perspective, the breast cancer death rate increased 0.4 percent between 1975 and 1989, so this is a huge jump.
This statistic is probably the result of improvement in breast cancer treatment over the years, and early detection thanks to yearly mammograms. Even better, this decrease crosses racial and ethnic lines—in other words, white women aren’t the only ones seeing these benefits.
“This means that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said lead study author Carol DeSantis, according to the Washington Post. “Some states are showing that they can close the gap.”
That being said, although the gap has closed a bit, breast cancer death rates are in no way the same for black women and white women: In 2015, the breast cancer death rate was 39 percent higher for black women than white women, whereas in 2011 that number was 41 percent. Additionally, breast cancer is still the most common cancer among women in the United States and is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths after lung cancer.
Long story short, as promising as this statistic is, there’s still more work to be done in the name of breast cancer prevention and treatment. In the meantime, do your part by getting your yearly mammogram—it could save your life.
Want to know more about the strides being made against breast cancer? Here’s Athleta’s empowering message to breast cancer survivors, and read about how one woman is beating breast cancer one run at a time.