SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Nick Smith, D-Chicago, recognized Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) Awareness Month on Thursday, emphasizing its imbalanced impact on communities of color and calling for further action to support underserved patient populations.
“Metastatic TNBC is a particularly deadly form of breast cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 30%,” Smith said. “It is not easily treatable, and statistics show that Black, Hispanic and younger women experience higher rates. Today and throughout this month, I call on residents to support efforts to improve screening access, along with promoting cultural sensitivity in health care environments.”
Smith’s House Resolution 585 names March as Illinois’ TNBC Awareness Month. It encourages the General Assembly to support legislation that addresses disparities in early detection and survival, as well as ensuring equitable access to affordable breast cancer screening, genetic counseling and diagnostic testing. Additionally, the resolution highlights the need to increase cultural competence and diversity in the health care workforce, as well as guaranteeing patients access to timeline clinically-appropriate treatment.
TNBC accounts for 15-30% of all invasive breast cancer diagnoses in the United States. In 2019, 53,700 cases were reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018 the mortality rate for breast cancer in women of all races and ethnicities in Illinois was 20.7, while for Black women it was 33.1.
“TNBC grows quickly, meaning it’s more likely to spread when doctors discover it,” Smith said. “It’s also more likely to come back after treatment than other types of breast cancer. That’s why we have to do what we can here in Illinois to educate people about this cancer, and encourage state action that can create better treatment outcomes and save more lives. The aggressive nature of TNBC, combined with existing barriers to accessing care, only exacerbates these alarming outcomes. There are targeted therapies hold great promise, but we can’t leave anyone behind.”
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