Why do Black women with ovarian cancer due to hair relaxers require greater focus?

Although the mortality rate of ovarian cancer has been decreasing across the country over the past decades, Black women continue to have a lower survival rate. Furthermore, they are also more likely to develop resistance to chemotherapy, which makes treating ovarian cancer in this demographic very challenging.

answered by Gary Anderson

While the ovarian cancer survival rate for white women is 46%, for Black women, it is 36%

The racial disparities in diagnosing and treating ovarian cancer are, without a doubt, real in the United States. When it comes to ovarian cancer, the fear and distrust Black women have toward seeking treatment come from a long and grim history of mistreatment by the medical community. Still, the reason why Black women struggling with ovarian cancer require greater healthcare focus nowadays is that they have certain disadvantages that make them prone to a less favorable prognosis. Misdiagnosis is significantly more common in Black women, particularly in those who developed the disease as a result of using hair relaxers, as there are numerous myths some doctors still believe to be true even today, such as:

  • fibroid tumors are more common in Black women, which makes misdiagnosis more likely
  • the BRCA mutations are uncommon in Black women when, in fact, they are more common
  • Black women are not willing to undergo cancer treatment, which is rarely the case

Alarmingly, between 1975 and 2016, the overall five-year ovarian cancer survival rate for Black women dropped from 44% to 41%. While this is not a major decrease, it indicates that the medical attention these women receive is poor or insufficient. Research shows that some Black women may survive for less than half the time as white women after treatment. Moreover, Black women usually develop high-grade serous tumors, the most aggressive type of ovarian cancer tumors. This only makes treatment even more challenging, as ovarian cancer is generally detected in advanced stages when treatment is quite ineffective. Black women also require additional medical attention when it comes to ovarian cancer because they are the main hair relaxer consumers.

The survival rate of Black women with advanced ovarian cancer is only 21%. One of the reasons why these women tend to die sooner from ovarian cancer than white women is the disparities in treatment. Black women are generally less likely to have access to money, education, affordable health insurance, and quality health care, which is mostly due to racial discrimination. Structural racism and other crucial obstacles preventing healthcare access can affect cancer care. They can make it so Black women with ovarian cancer are less likely to get:

  • timely treatment
  • optimal surgery and chemotherapy
  • social support
  • care at a high-volume cancer center

Black women are also more likely to receive lower doses of chemotherapy and to get diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. Medical mistrust is another factor affecting the survival rate of Black women with ovarian cancer, as they are also less trusting of health professionals and medical treatment than white women. This is also due to past racial discrimination and mistreatment. Finally, lack of representation in clinical trials is another reason why Black women tend to die earlier from ovarian cancer than white women. Since they are underrepresented in clinical trials, this makes it harder to know if new treatments for ovarian cancer will also work for Black women.

By 2040, the burden of ovarian cancer is expected to increase by 25% in the U.S. Therefore, it is imperative that the medical and scientific communities work quickly to resolve the disparities in the ovarian cancer outcomes experienced by Black women. On the bright side, change is afoot. Numerous consortia, including the Transatlantic Gynecologic Cancer Research Consortium, are prioritizing studies involving people of African ancestry. Scientific teams with complementary expertise in fields such as genetics, epidemiology, psychology, and sociology are studying cancer in African populations across the country, as well as throughout other continents, seeking the factors that affect cancer risk and outcomes.

Quality legal services and assistance for women with ovarian cancer due to toxic hair relaxers

With over 30 years of experience in handling toxic exposure and defective product cases, our diligent attorneys will help you determine whether you are entitled to financial compensation if you developed ovarian cancer after using hair relaxers. To initiate the legal process, all you need to do is send in your medical records with your diagnosis and evidence of your use of hair relaxers, such as receipts or hair salon bills. Because we are well aware of the impact ovarian cancer has on physical and emotional health, our compassionate legal team will go to great lengths to ease the process for you, which will require minimal involvement on your part.

Once we deem you eligible to file a toxic hair relaxer claim, our resourceful attorneys will promptly begin working on it and prepare it for submission. If you are too ill to participate in the legal process, a family member can step in and help you. We will strive to obtain the maximum financial compensation you are entitled to from the liable manufacturers for your suffering, money that will help you afford better treatment and healthcare. Lastly, it is important to note that our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not have to pay anything out of pocket unless we obtain money for you.

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