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Black Women More Likely to Die From Breast Cancer

U.S. study finds a lack of recommended care may be to blame

TUESDAY, March 21, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Black American women are 19 percent more likely than white women to die of breast cancer, a new study finds.

And a second study in the March 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that minority women in the United States are half as likely as white women to receive recommended post-surgical drug treatment for breast cancer. This may partially explain why black women are more likely to die from breast cancer, the researchers said.

In the first study, researchers reviewed data from 20 previous breast cancer studies that included information on patient survival, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

"Even after controlling for socioeconomic status and disease stage, African-American women were 19 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women," study lead author Dr. Lisa A. Newman, director of the Breast Care Center at the University of Michigan, said in a prepared statement. "Our research underscores the need to investigate the role of biologic, genetic and sociocultural factors in breast cancer mortality among black women," she added.

In the second study, researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine reviewed the medical records of 677 women who had surgery for early-stage breast cancer in six New York City-area hospitals in 1999 and 2000.

They found that minority women were only 50 percent as likely as white women to receive adjuvant treatment, even though they had similar rates of referrals to oncologists.

The likelihood of under-use of adjuvant treatment was 34 percent among black women, 23 percent among Hispanic women and 16 percent among white women.

"We found that one in three black women and nearly one in four Hispanic women fail to receive the necessary adjuvant therapy. Significant progress can be made toward reducing racial disparities in cancer death by eliminating the disparities in breast cancer treatment," study lead author Dr. Nina A. Bickell, associate professor of health policy and medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer treatment.

SOURCE: American Society of Clinical Oncology, news release, March 20, 2006
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