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Study finds racial disparities exist in radiation therapy rates for early stage breast cancer
Date:12/14/2009

HOUSTON - Black women are less likely than white women to receive radiation therapy after a lumpectomy, the standard of care for early stage breast cancer, according to a new study by researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The largest of its kind and the first to examine such racial disparities in radiation therapy, the study was published today in Cancer. It was first presented at the 2008 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Breast Cancer Symposium.

Led by Grace Li Smith, M.D., Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in M. D. Anderson's Department of Radiation Oncology, the researchers reviewed the Medicare records of more than 37,000 patients diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2003.

"Although there have been smaller studies of racial disparities in breast cancer care, no prior research has examined the differences across the nation in the rates of radiation therapy after lumpectomy between whites and blacks," said Smith, the study's first author. "The national Medicare database, because it's so comprehensive, allowed us to determine the extent to which racial disparities in radiation therapy affected patients across the country."

For the retrospective cohort study, Smith and her M. D. Anderson colleagues used Medicare claims to examine the treatment history of women aged 66 and older diagnosed in 2003 with early stage, newly diagnosed breast cancer. Of the 37,305 women who underwent a lumpectomy for their breast cancer, 34,024 were white and 2,305 were black. Overall, 74 percent of the white women received radiation therapy after their lumpectomy; in contrast, 65 percent of the black breast cancer patients received the same treatment.

"The use of radiation after lumpectomy is considered to be the standard of care for women with invasive breast cancer, as clinical trials have demonstrated that it both reduces the chance of recurrence and improves the chance of survival,"
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Contact: Laura Sussman
lsussman@mdanderson.org
713-745-2457
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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