It has long puzzled researchers why African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, even though white women have a higher incidence of the disease. Now, a new hypothesis that will be published in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Surgery suggests that the high mortality rate among black women may be because more black women than white women get breast cancer before menopause, when their surgery to remove their tumor may have a higher risk of stimulating cancer growth.
The researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston note that black women are, on average, diagnosed at age 46 versus age 57 for white women. While the researchers didn’t directly study the biology of cancer recurrences they suggest that in women diagnosed before menopause, surgery is more likely to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels (called angiogenesis), which in turn, may spur the growth of tiny, dormant metastases. The researchers are going to further study the relationship between blood vessel growth in primary versus recurrent tumors from black and white pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women. Another area for further study is whether pre-menopausal women should receive chemotherapy, including angiogenesis inhibitors before surgery.
Published On: February 27, 2007