Study finds difference in survival rates among white and black women with advanced breast cancer

CHICAGO - Despite modest overall improvements in breast cancer survival rates for women with advanced disease over the last two decades, the rates for black women have not improved and the difference in life expectancy between white and black women continues to widen, according to researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The study, presented today (June 3) at the 43rd annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), is the first to show that improvements in breast cancer survival only benefit white women and that the disparity between black and white breast cancer patients is widening.

The study evolved as a follow-up to recent research of Sharon Giordano, M.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology, that found an overall improvement in the survival of Stage IV breast cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials at M. D. Anderson.

"We wanted to expand our research and look to a bigger subset of patients treated in the community to see if we would find similar results," says Shaheena Dawood, M.D., a Susan G. Komen Fellow in Breast Medical Oncology at M. D. Anderson. "We thought we would find that there was improvement in women with Stage IV breast cancer regardless if patients were white or black, with white women likely having better outcomes. Rather, over the decades, we found that black women's survival did not improve at all."

The researchers analyzed the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database to identify 15,438 women who were newly diagnosed with advanced breast cancer between 1988 and 2003. Adjustment factors included: patient age; estrogen receptor status; and tumor grade.

Patients were divided into three subgroups: those diagnosed from1988 to 1993; from 1994 to 1998; and from 1999 to 2003. Overall, the median age of the women was 62 years old; median breast cancer-specific survival was 20 m

Contact: Laura Sussman
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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