Racial factors affect time to breast cancer treatment

By Kate Madden Yee, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

January 24, 2019 -- Black women with breast cancer experienced longer times to surgery than their white counterparts in a study among patients in the U.S. Military Health System published online January 23 in JAMA Surgery.

A team led by Yvonne Eaglehouse, PhD, from Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD, compared time to surgery among black and white women with breast cancer and also explored disparities in survival rates.

The study used data from the Department of Defense Central Cancer Registry and Military Health System Data Repository between January 1998 and December 2008. It included 998 black women and 3,899 white women in the U.S. Military Health System who were diagnosed with stages I to III breast cancer and underwent breast-conserving surgery or mastectomy. The researchers estimated the median time to surgery for both groups, in addition to comparing the groups at the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles of time to surgery.

Eaglehouse and colleagues found that median time to surgery after diagnosis was 21 days for white women and 22 days for black women. Black women had a significantly greater estimated time to surgery at the 75th (3.6 days) and 90th (8.9 days) percentiles, compared with white women.

The researchers also found that black women who underwent breast-conserving surgery had a higher risk of death than white women.

More research is needed, the group wrote.

"Future research on factors that influence surgical decisions, treatment delays, and short-term and long-term clinical outcomes is warranted to better understand racial disparities in breast cancer treatment and overall survival," Eaglehouse and colleagues concluded.


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