Smith-Bindman R. Racial and ethnic differences in breast cancer survival: how much is explained by screening, tumor severity, biology, treatment, comorbidities, and demographics?

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Cancer (Impact Factor: 4.9). 01/2008; 112(1):171-80. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.23131
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The reasons for race/ethnicity (R/E) differences in breast cancer survival have been difficult to disentangle.
Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare data were used to identify 41,020 women aged > or =68 years with incident breast cancer between 1994-1999 including African American (2479), Hispanic (1172), Asian/Pacific Island (1086), and white women (35,878). A Cox proportional hazards model assessed overall and stage-specific (0/I, II/III, and IV) R/E differences in breast cancer survival after adjusting for mammography screening, tumor characteristics at diagnosis, biologic markers, treatment, comorbidity, and demographics.
African American women had worse survival than white women, although controlling for predictor variables reduced this difference among all stage breast cancer (hazards ratio [HR], 1.08; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.97-1.20). Adjustment for predictors reduced, but did not eliminate, disparities in the analysis limited to women diagnosed with stage II/III disease (HR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.10-1.54). Screening mammography, tumor characteristics at diagnosis, biologic markers, and treatment each produced a similar reduction in HRs for women with stage II/III cancers. Asian and Pacific Island women had better survival than white women before and after accounting for all predictors (adjusted all stages HR, 0.61 [95% CI, 0.47-0.79]; adjusted stage II/III HR, 0.61 [95% CI, 0.47-0.79]). Hispanic women had better survival than white women in all and stage II/III analysis (all stage HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.75-1.04) and stage II/III analysis (HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.75-1.04), although these findings did not reach statistical significance. There was no significant difference in survival by R/E noted among women diagnosed with stage IV disease.
Predictor variables contribute to, but do not fully explain, R/E differences in breast cancer survival for elderly American women. Future analyses should further investigate the role of biology, demographics, and disparities in quality of care.

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