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Initiation of breast cancer treatment varies by race; patient-doctor communication is key
Date:5/7/2013

WASHINGTON Black women with breast cancer were found to be three times more likely than their white counterparts to delay treatment for more than 90 days a time delay associated with increased deaths from the disease, according to a new study led by researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

But many women chose to forgo treatment altogether, and the study, published online in the May issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, suggests that low satisfaction regarding communication between black women and their doctors is a significant reason why they opt out.

The study seeks a better understanding of why black women die more often after a breast cancer diagnosis than white women. Although systemic therapy has been shown to reduce mortality by up to 50 percent, researchers say black women are less likely to undergo chemotherapy after surgery a major contributing factor to the disparity in survival rates.

"When black women receive chemotherapy, their survival outcomes are similar to their white counterparts," says Vanessa B. Sheppard, PhD, an associate professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi.

For the study, 359 women with invasive, non-metastatic breast cancer for whom chemotherapy would be considered curative were enrolled (58 percent black; 42 percent white) from three hospitals in Washington and one in Detroit. Participants were asked about their experiences with their oncologists and other questions about marital status and religion.

Thirty-nine percent of study participants chose to receive chemotherapy after surgery, but there was significant variation in when they started treatment.

Women who reported having lower trust in their oncologists and who were single were more likely to experience a delay in treatment; the average delay was 71.8 days for black women, compared with a delay of 55 days for white women.

In addition, overall, black women who iden
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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