Black Women with Breast Cancer Have Delayed, and Longer Treatment Compared to White Women

Black women with breast cancer experience delays in starting treatment and longer treatment duration compared to white women, according to a study published in the journal Cancer.

“Our study found that Black women experienced delays in both treatment initiation and duration more often than white women. 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,” said Marc Emerson, PhD, the paper’s first author via a press release.

Researchers assessed 2,841 women enrolled in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study Phase III. All the patients included in the analysis were between 24 and 74 years of age at time of diagnosis, had stage 1, 2 or 3 breast cancer, and approximately half were Black. To conduct their analysis, the researchers latent class analysis to group women according to a wide range of factors related to socioeconomic status, barriers to accessing care, and treatments and other patient factors that contribute to racial disparities. The analysis enabled the researchers to consider how aggregated factors may combined to characterize patients’ health care experiences.

“Describing and studying the complex set of factors that influence women’s health care experience is a challenge, but this approach helps develop a more complex understanding,” said Melissa Troester, PhD, the study’s senior author and professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings and professor of pathology and lab medicine at UNC School of Medicine. “We observed that the duration of treatment was a particular sensitive indicator of access. This suggests that in addition to helping patients start treatment on time, we also have to work toward improving access so treatment doesn’t drag on.”