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Studies Shed New Light on Breast Cancer, Treatment
Date:9/6/2007

Symposium reveals racial disparities, troublesome drug side effects

THURSDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- New studies from the first annual Breast Cancer Symposium shed light on racial differences in breast cancer, how not sticking with treatment can affect survival, and how nagging side effects cause people to stop their therapies.

The symposium, held in San Francisco, is co-sponsored by the American Society of Breast Disease, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, the National Consortium of Breast Centers, and the Society of Surgical Oncology.

An estimated 180,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2007, and more than 40,000 people will die from the disease. After lung cancer, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.

Although the overall incidence of breast cancer is lower in black women than white women, survival rates are lower among black women. Black women also have a higher incidence of the disease at younger ages and tend to be diagnosed at later stages.

Experts point to socioeconomic factors as the reason for much of this discrepancy, but, as one study presented at the meeting showed, the tumor's biology also plays a role.

After analyzing data on more than 170,000 cases of breast cancer in both black and white U.S. women, investigators concluded that, among invasive cancers, estrogen receptor (ER)-negative tumors were significantly more frequent in black women at all stages of the disease and in all age categories.

ER-negative tumors have a less favorable prognosis than ER-positive tumors, which have more treatment options.

Thirty-nine percent of black women had ER-negative tumors compared with 22 percent of white women.

Black women were also diagnosed at a younger age (57 years of age
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