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Breast Cancer Treatment Comes Later, Lasts Longer for Black Women

FRIDAY, Sept. 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Among breast cancer patients in the United States, Black women are more likely to start treatment later and to have a longer treatment period than white women, new research shows.

For the study, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed data from more than 2,800 patients (about equal numbers of Black women and white women) with stage 1 to 3 breast cancer in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study.

The overall median time to start of treatment was 34 days, but Black women were more likely than white women to have a delayed start to treatment (13% versus 8%, respectively) and a long treatment duration (30% versus 21%, respectively).

Nearly one-third (32%) of younger Black women were in the highest quartile of treatment duration, compared with just over 22% of younger white women. Meanwhile, 28% of older Black women had prolonged treatment duration compared with 20% of older white women, the findings showed.

Among wealthy women, nearly 12% of Black patients had delays in the start of treatment compared with about 7% of white patients, according to the study published online Sept. 21 in the journal Cancer.

"Even among women with low socioeconomic status, we still saw fewer delays among white women, underscoring the disparate experience of Black women, who appear to experience unique barriers," lead author Marc Emerson said in a journal news release.

Financial and transportation problems were among the barriers identified by the researchers, noted team leader Melissa Troester.

"It is important to recognize that the causes of delay are complex and reflect both individual barriers and system level factors," Troester said.

Previous research has shown that Black women in the United States have a higher risk of dying from breast cancer than white women, even though they have similar rates of breast cancer. The disparity is especially high among younger women, the study authors added.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on breast cancer.

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, Sept. 21, 2020

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