Underinsured African-American women have worse breast cancer outcomes

Jun 23, 2010

Underinsured African-Americans had worse breast cancer survival outcomes than underinsured non-Hispanic whites, according to a study published online June 23rd in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study was the first to look at underinsured populations of African-American and non-Hispanic white women with comparable socio-demographic profiles at a single institution. Most previous studies have compared racial and ethnic differences among patients in diverse geographic locations. Prior epidemiological studies have identified factors that may account for the higher levels of mortality between African American women and non-Hispanic whites. These include socio-demographic variables such as income, education level, and access to health care. African-American women have also been shown to be more susceptible to aggressive tumor types than white women.

To compare breast cancer outcomes between underinsured African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites, Ian K. Komenaka, M.D., from Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis, and colleagues, conducted a retrospective review of medical records for breast cancer patients treated at Wishard Hospital between January 1, 1997, and February 28, 2006.

The researchers looked at the records of 574 patients, 84% of whom were underinsured. Both groups had a similar median time from diagnosis to operation, adequate surgery, and similar usage of adjuvant therapy and follow-up time.

The researchers found that African-American women had more advanced breast cancer at diagnosis, and overall, poorer breast cancer-specific survival outcomes than non-Hispanic whites. However, race was no longer significantly associated with breast cancer mortality after researchers made adjustments for age, stage and estrogen receptor status and progesterone receptor status.

The study also found that African-American women are just as likely as non-Hispanic white women to undergo breast-conserving procedures and adjuvant therapy, a finding that differed from previous studies showing African-American women used these less.

According to the authors, "Despite the similar surgical care and adjuvant therapy, in this study had lower overall and breast cancer-specific survival compared with non-Hispanic white women. After adjustment for competing causes of death, the survival disparity between African-American and non-Hispanic white women appears to be attributable in part to differences in clinical and socio-demographic factors between the groups."

"The point of the study," Komenaka said, "is that many factors are important: surgery, adjuvant therapy, biologic and clinical factors, and socio-demographic variables."

The authors, however, said the study was limited by its relatively small sample size. They aim to develop future studies with information on clinical and socio-demographic factors as well as the specific cause of death to clarify the causes of racial and ethnic differences in overall survival among breast cancer patients.

Explore further: AstraZeneca cancer drug, companion test approved

More information: jnci.oxfordjournals.org

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Breast cancer risk factors differ among races

Apr 26, 2010

A new study finds that factors known to increase the risk of breast cancer among white women have less influence in Hispanic women. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Societ ...

Recommended for you

Putting the brakes on cancer

Dec 19, 2014

A study led by the University of Dundee, in collaboration with researchers at our University, has uncovered an important role played by a tumour suppressor gene, helping scientists to better understand how ...

Peanut component linked to cancer spread

Dec 19, 2014

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that a component of peanuts could encourage the spread and survival of cancer cells in the body.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.