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Breast cancer prognosis may be worse among black women than among white women regardless of the subtype of breast cancer. These results were presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

It’s long been known that breast cancer prognosis varies by race among women in the United States, with black women tending to have worse outcomes than white women. Some of this variability has been attributed to the fact that black women have higher rates of triple-negative breast cancer than women of other races. How race affects prognosis among women with certain subtypes of breast cancer, however, has been uncertain.

To explore the relationship between race and prognosis by subtype of breast cancer, researchers evaluated 1,688 breast cancer survivors who participated in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology and Pathways studies. Women have been followed for more than six years.

  • Consisted with previous studies, black women had higher rates of breast cancer mortality overall, and were also more likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.
  • Differences in survival between black and white women were seen in all subtypes of breast cancer. Among women with triple-negative breast cancer, mortality rates were 30% higher in black women than in white women. Among women with other types of breast cancer, mortality rates were more than twice as high among black women.
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These results suggest that variability in breast cancer prognosis by race is not due entirely to the more frequent diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer in black women. A better understanding of the reasons for the variability may suggest ways to improve treatment.

Reference: Kroenke C, Kwan M, Bernard P et al. Race and breast cancer prognosis by PAM50 subtype in the LACE and Pathways Studies. Presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Washington, DC, April 6-10, 2013. Abstract 131.

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