Feature | April 07, 2010

Race Disparity Persists in Breast Cancer Outcomes

April 7, 2010 - The lack of radiation therapy treatment African-American women receive is not responsible for the poorer survival noted among African-American patients.

According to a new study by researchers at University of California-Davis, African-American women have poorer survival rates than their white and Hispanic counterparts regardless of whether they receive radiation therapy following lumpectomy or mastectomy.

Steve Martinez, a surgical oncologist, and assistant professor of surgery at UC Davis Cancer Center, determined that while Hispanic and African-American women with advanced breast cancer are less likely to receive radiation therapy than their white counterparts, only African Americans have poorer outcomes than white patients with the same stage disease.

Martinez looked at data from more than 12,000 women from throughout the country who had breast cancer that had spread to 10 or more lymph nodes and that had resulted in either lumpectomy or mastectomy.

he found was that Hispanic patients were 20 percent less likely to get radiation therapy than their white counterparts, and black patients were about 24 percent less likely to receive radiation therapy.

For the second study, he wanted to learn whether the disparities in receipt of radiation therapy resulted in poorer outcomes for Hispanic and African-American women.

Martinez examined 10-year survival rates in patients from each group who received radiation therapy and those who did not. While he found dramatic differences in survival for white women who had radiation therapy (an 11 percent survival boost), black patients had just a 3 percent difference in their survival rates.

Martinez plans to continue his research into factors that may influence whether or not patients receive radiation therapy and that may also affect their outcomes, including possible biological differences.

Martinez said his team is trying to determin which treatments work best for which people.

For more information: www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

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