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      Barriers to adequate follow-up during adjuvant therapy may be important factors in the worse outcome for Black women after breast cancer treatment

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          Black women appear to have worse outcome after diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. It is still unclear if this is because Black race is more often associated with known negative prognostic indicators or if it is an independent prognostic factor. To study this, we analyzed a patient cohort from an urban university medical center where these women made up the majority of the patient population.


          We used retrospective analysis of a prospectively collected database of breast cancer patients seen from May 1999 to June 2006. Time to recurrence and survival were analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method, with statistical analysis by chi-square, log rank testing, and the Cox regression model.


          265 female patients were diagnosed with breast cancer during the time period. Fifty patients (19%) had pure DCIS and 215 patients (81%) had invasive disease. Racial and ethnic composition of the entire cohort was as follows: Black (N = 150, 56.6%), Hispanic (N = 83, 31.3%), Caucasian (N = 26, 9.8%), Asian (N = 4, 1.5%), and Arabic (N = 2, 0.8%). For patients with invasive disease, independent predictors of poor disease-free survival included tumor size, node-positivity, incompletion of adjuvant therapy, and Black race. Tumor size, node-positivity, and Black race were independently associated with disease-specific overall survival.


          Worse outcome among Black women appears to be independent of the usual predictors of survival. Further investigation is necessary to identify the cause of this survival disparity. Barriers to completion of standard post-operative treatment regimens may be especially important in this regard.

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          Most cited references 61

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          Race, breast cancer subtypes, and survival in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study.

          Gene expression analysis has identified several breast cancer subtypes, including basal-like, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 positive/estrogen receptor negative (HER2+/ER-), luminal A, and luminal B. To determine population-based distributions and clinical associations for breast cancer subtypes. Immunohistochemical surrogates for each subtype were applied to 496 incident cases of invasive breast cancer from the Carolina Breast Cancer Study (ascertained between May 1993 and December 1996), a population-based, case-control study that oversampled premenopausal and African American women. Subtype definitions were as follows: luminal A (ER+ and/or progesterone receptor positive [PR+], HER2-), luminal B (ER+ and/or PR+, HER2+), basal-like (ER-, PR-, HER2-, cytokeratin 5/6 positive, and/or HER1+), HER2+/ER- (ER-, PR-, and HER2+), and unclassified (negative for all 5 markers). We examined the prevalence of breast cancer subtypes within racial and menopausal subsets and determined their associations with tumor size, axillary nodal status, mitotic index, nuclear pleomorphism, combined grade, p53 mutation status, and breast cancer-specific survival. The basal-like breast cancer subtype was more prevalent among premenopausal African American women (39%) compared with postmenopausal African American women (14%) and non-African American women (16%) of any age (P<.001), whereas the luminal A subtype was less prevalent (36% vs 59% and 54%, respectively). The HER2+/ER- subtype did not vary with race or menopausal status (6%-9%). Compared with luminal A, basal-like tumors had more TP53 mutations (44% vs 15%, P<.001), higher mitotic index (odds ratio [OR], 11.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.6-21.7), more marked nuclear pleomorphism (OR, 9.7; 95% CI, 5.3-18.0), and higher combined grade (OR, 8.3; 95% CI, 4.4-15.6). Breast cancer-specific survival differed by subtype (P<.001), with shortest survival among HER2+/ER- and basal-like subtypes. Basal-like breast tumors occurred at a higher prevalence among premenopausal African American patients compared with postmenopausal African American and non-African American patients in this population-based study. A higher prevalence of basal-like breast tumors and a lower prevalence of luminal A tumors could contribute to the poor prognosis of young African American women with breast cancer.
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            Nonparametric Estimation from Incomplete Observations

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              Under the shadow of Tuskegee: African Americans and health care.

               V N Gamble (1997)
              The Tuskegee Syphilis Study continues to cast its long shadow on the contemporary relationship between African Americans and the biomedical community. Numerous reports have argued that the Tuskegee Syphilis Study is the most important reason why many African Americans distrust the institutions of medicine and public health. Such an interpretation neglects a critical historical point: the mistrust predated public revelations about the Tuskegee study. This paper places the syphilis study within a broader historical and social context to demonstrate that several factors have influenced--and continue to influence--African American's attitudes toward the biomedical community.

                Author and article information

                World J Surg Oncol
                World Journal of Surgical Oncology
                BioMed Central
                25 February 2008
                : 6
                : 26
                [1 ]Department of Surgery, Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, Wilkes Barre, PA, 18711, USA
                [2 ]Department of Family Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, 07103, USA
                [3 ]Department of Radiology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, 07103, USA
                [4 ]Department of Pathology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, 07103, USA
                Copyright © 2008 Kim et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.




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