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Race, Income Tied to Breast Cancer Treatment Delays, Reduced Survival
Date:4/25/2013

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- A delay in breast cancer treatment shortens young women's survival time, especially if they are black or Hispanic, have no insurance or are low-income, a new study indicates.

"A delay does influence the outcome, which is survival," said researcher Hoda Anton-Culver, chair of epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine.

A treatment delay time of more than six weeks affected survival at the five-year mark, she found. Overall, 90 percent of women treated less than two weeks after their diagnosis were alive five years later, but that was the case for only 80 percent of those whose treatment began more than six weeks after the diagnosis.

Hispanic and black women, compared to white women, were more likely to have a treatment delay. So were low-income women; as well as those with public or no insurance, compared to those with private insurance.

In a separate study, researchers found that women on Medicaid, the insurance plan for low-income patients, have larger breast tumors at diagnosis compared to women who had private insurance. Women on Medicaid were more likely to be treated with mastectomy for large tumors compared to women with private insurance, the study also found.

Both studies were published online April 24 in JAMA Surgery.

Anton-Culver and her colleagues evaluated the records of nearly 9,000 teens and young adults, aged 15 to 39, with breast cancer, who were in the California Cancer Registry database. They were diagnosed from 1997 to 2006.

Hispanic and black women were almost twice as likely as white women to have a treatment delay of more than six weeks. Low-income women and those with public or no insurance were nearly twice as likely to wait more than six weeks for treatment, compared to those who were higher income or who had private insurance.

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