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Racial disparities persist in the diagnosis of advanced breast cancer and colon cancer in the U.S.
Date:2/9/2010

SEATTLE - The incidence of advanced breast cancer diagnosis among black women remained 30 percent to 90 percent higher compared to white women between 1992 and 2004, according to new findings by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In addition, the disparity in the incidence of advance colorectal cancer actually widened over this time period as rates fell among whites but increased slightly among blacks.

The findings are published online in the inaugural issue of Springer's journal Hormones and Cancer, a publication of the Endocrine Society.

"While we could not determine the exact contributors to the trends we saw in this study, it is interesting to note that for breast cancer, mammographic screening rates were quite similar among African American and white women in the United States during the time period we studied. This suggests that factors other than screening may be contributing to this persistent disparity, including differences in both lifestyle and genetics," said senior author Christopher I. Li, M.D., Ph.D., an associate member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center.

A potential explanation for this disparity, he said, is that overall, black women have more-aggressive tumors that are more difficult to detect and treat as compared to non-Hispanic white women. Specifically, they have higher rates of hormone-receptor-negative breast cancers. Such tumors, while relatively rare, grow quickly and therefore often are not detected during screening mammograms. These tumors also are more resistant to therapy because they don't respond to estrogen-blocking drugs such as tamoxifen.

The study included data on 7,237 women with newly diagnosed distant-stage breast cancer. Of these women, 1,364 were black and 5,873 were white. Overall, rates of advanced breast cancer remained essentially constant among women of both races throughout the study period, affecting about 18 out of 100,000 bla
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Contact: Kristen Woodward
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org
206-667-5095
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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