ORLANDOA New Mexico study has found that Hispanic women are more likely
than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, are
more likely to be estrogen-receptor (ER) negative, and are at greater risk
for poor survival. Diane D. Crumley, PhD, research assistant professor,
Division of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of New Mexico,
reported the findings at the Era of Hope Department of Defense Breast Cancer
Research Program meeting.
A review of breast cancer incidence and mortality in New Mexico over the
past 30 years found that Hispanic women’s incidence rates were lower than
non-Hispanic white women’s during the period. Both groups saw an increase in
incidence. However, the rate of change was much higher in the Hispanic women.
Their incidence rate doubled from 36.5 per 100,000 population to 75.4 from
1969 to 1998, compared with an increase from 79.6 per 100,000 to 112.1 among
the non-Hispanic white women.
Furthermore, breast cancer mortality rates for the Hispanic women
increased more than 58% (from 12 deaths per 100,000 in 1969 to 19 deaths in
1998), compared with a stable mortality rate for non-Hispanic white women
(25.7 in 1969 and 24.2 in 1998).
The percentage of women diagnosed with regional disease decreased for both
ethnic groups, but Hispanic women’s rates of regional breast cancer were
consistently higher throughout a 20-year period (1981 to 1999).
In an attempt to understand the factors responsible for the increase in
breast cancer mortality among New Mexico Hispanics, Dr. Crumley examined risk
factors and survival data from the Health, Eating, Activity and Lifestyle
(HEAL) multicenter study of breast cancer prognosis funded by the National
The New Mexico HEAL study recruited 654 women with breast cancer (24%
Hispanic, 76% non-Hispanic white) diagnosed between 1996 and 1999 (age range:
29 to 91 years). After 24 months, the researchers interviewed 526 of these
women and performed blood tests, measured body composition, and abstracted
medical records for all reported breast cancer recurrences. Among the women
who completed the 24-month assessment, there were 498 invasive breast cancer
cases, 124 Hispanic, 374 non-Hispanic white.
The team found ethnic differences in income, with a larger percentage of
Hispanic women reporting a household income of less than $20,000 per year.
However, there were no ethnic differences in insurance status or having a
regular physician. There were no differences in prior mammography screening
between ethnic groups, although slightly more Hispanic women, ages 40 to 49,
had not had prior mammography.