Even with equivalent treatments, the statistics show that black women have worse breast cancer treatment outcomes than white women.
The data has been presented at the 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held Dec. 4-8. It showed that in equivalent treatments with the hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, black women had significantly higher recurrence and increased overall mortality compared to white women in a large phase III clinical trial, TAILORx.
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, the analysis of the entire trial population showed that black women had up to a 4 percent higher absolute risk of recurrence or death. When the authors compared the treatment outcomes between black and white women and adjusted for multiple factors, they found that black women had a 39 percent higher relative risk of breast cancer recurrence and a 52 percent higher relative risk of death than white women.
Why do black women have worse breast cancer treatment outcomes?
Kathy Albain MD said:”The racial disparities observed in this trial were not explained by differences in recurrence score, duration, or reported adherence to hormone therapy, nor were they explained by use of chemotherapy, or characteristics such as age, tumor size, or tumor grade. As such, our results suggest that biological differences may contribute to the significantly different outcomes of black women compared to others with breast cancer.”
Limitations of the study
The limitations of this study are the retrospective nature of the analysis, lack of adequate power to address specific questions in the race/ethnicity subsets, and a reliance on self-reported adherence to hormone therapy.
Albain added: “Our findings are consistent with prior studies indicating that black women with hormone-receptor positive, HER2-negative breast cancer have worse prognoses than women of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, even when they have access to the same contemporary cancer care. This suggests that additional research is required to determine the basis for these racial disparities and also highlights the need to enhance accrual of minority populations in cancer clinical trials.”