Black women at higher risk of breast cancer death
Five-year survival rates are lower among black women diagnosed with breast cancer than white women with the same disease. According to new research from Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, African-American women have higher mortality rates, with most of the differences attributed to poorer health at the time of diagnosis and being diagnosed with more advanced forms of cancer.
The researchers examined the extent of racial differences in breast cancer survival among the Medicare population for women diagnosed between 1991 and 2005. The study compared 7,375 black women aged 65 and older with three sets of 7,375 white women selected from 99,898 control cases. After matching the cases based on age, year of diagnosis, region, other physical conditions, tumor characteristics and treatment received, the researchers found that the five-year survival rate for black women was 55.9 percent, compared to 68.8 percent among whites.
On average, 12.5 percent of black patients did not receive treatment, compared to 5.9 percent of white women. The average time from diagnosis to treatment was 29.2 days for black women and 22.5 days for white women. Black women were also twice as likely not to initiate treatment during the first three months after diagnosis. Black women also saw primary care doctors less often and had lower rates of breast cancer screening.