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Black Women Get Less Breast Cancer Treatment
Date:10/8/2007

Study finds they're much less likely than whites to get tamoxifen, for example

MONDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Black women with breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes are less likely to undergo supplemental, potentially lifesaving, therapies such as tamoxifen or chemotherapy than white women with the same level of disease are, a new study finds.

"When cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, we are seeing that African-American women are not getting the optimal therapy as often as are Caucasians," said study author Mousumi Banerjee, a research associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in Ann Arbor.

The study is published online Oct. 8 and is expected to be published in the Nov. 15 issue of Cancer.

Banerjee's team reviewed final data on 630 women diagnosed with breast cancer at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit between 1990 and 1996. They wanted to evaluate the role of race in breast cancer treatment, after accounting for such variables as any accompanying illnesses (some of which might have ruled out the use of certain treatments), as well as the women's socioeconomic and health insurance status.

Of the 630 women, 242 were white and 388 were black. Of the 242 white women, 154 had local disease, while in 88, it had spread to the lymph nodes. Of the 388 black women, 230 had local tumors, and 158 had disease that had spread to the lymph nodes.

Among the patients whose cancer had reached their lymph nodes, black women were less likely to have supplemental therapy. White women whose cancer had also spread to the nodes were nearly five times as likely as blacks to take tamoxifen, the cancer-preventing drug, and more than three times as likely to take chemotherapy.

The researchers also found that those with early stage breast cancer who were in government health insurance plans were less likely to have breast-conserving surgery (meani
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