Black Women's Genes May Spur Deadlier Breast Cancer

Race played role in outcome, despite treatment used, study found

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TUESDAY, Oct. 24, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Black American women are more likely to have aggressive breast cancer and poorer survival rates than patients of other races, a new study finds.

The findings suggest that race-influenced tumor biology may contribute to racial disparities that have long been observed in breast cancer outcomes, the researchers said.

The study, to be published in the Dec. 1 issue of Cancer, was led by Dr. Wendy A. Woodward of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She and her colleagues reviewed the medical records and outcomes of more than 2,100 black, white and Hispanic breast cancer patients.

The patients were divided into two treatment groups -- those who had received either chemotherapy before or after mastectomy.

In both groups, being black was independently associated with poor tumor and clinical characteristics and low survival rates compared to being white or Hispanic. For example, the study found that black women presented with more advanced disease and were likely to have estrogen-receptor (ER) negative tumors.

The findings support previous data "that African-American women more frequently had ER-negative disease and high-grade tumors and that African-American race was associated with a poorer survival rate," the study authors wrote.

More information

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

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, Oct. 23, 2006

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