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Many Black Women Forgo Late Stage Breast Cancer Treatment

Understanding reasons for refusal key to improving treatment compliance

MONDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- There are distinct clinical characteristics associated with black women who have stage III breast cancer, and understanding the reasons why many of them refuse treatment is key to improving compliance rates, according to a study published online on May 22 in Cancer.

Monica Rizzo, M.D., of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data on 840 women with primary invasive breast cancer, of whom 107 were diagnosed with stage III disease, and 93 of those 107 (86.9 percent) were black. Twenty-nine percent of the women had triple negative tumors.

In all, 22 (20.5 percent) of the patients refused chemotherapy and of the 91 patients who were recommended to have chest wall radiation, 24 (26.3 percent) of them refused, the scientists found. Patients who did and did not refuse treatment were similar in terms of race, marital status, age and religion, the researchers note.

"This study suggests that in African American women there are distinct clinical behaviors associated with stage III breast cancers," the authors write. "A high number of these patients refused chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Reasons for refusal need to be better defined so strategies can be implemented to improve compliance for these advanced-stage patients."

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