Over ten years ago, in a period spanning almost 25 years, there had been no improvement in breast cancer mortality in African-American (AA) women in the city of Chicago, despite comparable mortality rates at one point.
As breast cancer diagnosis and treatment quality improved, improvements in mortality were seen among non-Hispanic White (NHW) women, but not among non-Hispanic Black (NHB) women, so all women were not benefitting equally from the scientific advancements in breast cancer care. Both national and Chicago-specific data suggest that differential quality of breast health care between the NHW and NHB women have historically contributed to disparities in care.
Based on these findings and other published literature, a working hypothesis was developed that breast cancer mortality disparities in Chicago were secondary to differential access to and quality of mammograms, as well as differential access to quality treatment for breast cancer, resulting in unequal access to both for NHB women (Hirschman, Whitman and Ansell, 2007).
Chicago healthcare leaders, including activists, clinicians, and researchers, convened a task force to address how the healthcare community could collaborate to improve the quality of mammography in Chicago, with the objective of eliminating racial disparities in breast cancer mortality. The Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force (MCBCTF) emerged in 2007 as a result of this growing awareness of racial health disparities in breast cancer mortality in Chicago. (Improving Quality and Reducing Disparities in Breast Cancer Mortality in Metropolitan Chicago, 2007).