African-American breast cancer patients survive as long as their Caucasian counterparts, a new study with up to a 40-year follow-up shows. The study, conducted at the University of Chicago, also found that African-American women do not have more aggressive cancer.
African-American breast cancer patients survive as long as theirCaucasian counterparts, a new study with up to a 40-year follow-upshows. The study, conducted at the University of Chicago, alsofound that African-American women do not have more aggressivecancer.
"These findings contradict other studies which indicate thatAfrican-American women are more likely to die from the diseasebecause they have biologically more aggressive tumors," saidDr. Ruth Heimann, assistant professor in the department of radiationand cellular oncology.
About 1,700 women (1,277 Caucasians and 481 African-Americans)who were treated with mastectomy from 1927 to 1987 were studied,Dr. Heimann said.
The disease-free survival rate was similar for both races regardlessof the size of the tumor or whether the cancer had spread intothe patient's lymph nodes, Dr. Heimann told the American Societyfor Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology at its annual meeting inMiami Beach.
For example, she said, African-American patients with early-stagedisease--tumors 2 cm and less and no lymph node involvement--hada disease-free survival rate of 83%, as compared with 78% forCaucasian patients.
African-American patients with more advanced disease--those withfour or more involved nodes--had an 18% disease-free survivalrate, as opposed to 17% for their Caucasian counterparts.
"We also compared how many lymph nodes contained cancer cells.African-American women had the same number as Caucasians if theirtumor size was the same." Dr. Heimann said. This stronglyindicates that African-Americans do not have more aggressive disease,but rather, have the same type of disease as Caucasian women,she emphasized.
"We've begun looking at each patient's cells to see if thepatient is more likely to have cancer spread," Dr. Heimannsaid. Preliminary data show that African-Americans were only aslikely as their Caucasian counterparts to have cancer spread.
The study also emphasizes the importance of early screening forbreast cancer, she noted. Nearly 40% of the Caucasians and morethan 40% of the African-Americans were under age 50 when theywere treated for the disease