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Racial Disparities Shown in the Postsurgical Treatment of Elderly Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Older Black women are less likely than older White women to receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy after having breast-conserving surgery (BCS) for early-stage breast cancer, according researchers.

Previously, racial disparities in breast cancer mortality were attributed to Black women being diagnosed when the cancer was at a later stage, fewer physician recommendations for breast cancer screening, higher rates of obesity and hypertension, as well as nonclinical factors.

Researchers compared post-surgical treatment of Black and White women aged 65 or older diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, who were treated by either BCS or mastectomy, and had close-in (proximal) lymph nodes checked for the presence of cancer cells.

After adjusting their data for patient age, tumor characteristics, number of co-existing illnesses (and socioeconomic status in a second model), researchers found Black women were less likely than White women to receive chemotherapy (25% less if lymph node-positive and 17% less if node-negative).

To learn more, see Sail et al. (2012). Differences in treatment and survival among African-American and Caucasian women with early stage operable breast cancer. Ethnicity & Health, 17(3), 309-323. doi:10.1080/13557858.2011.628011


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