Early onset of breast carcinoma in African American women with poor prognostic factors

Am J Clin Oncol. 1999 Oct;22(5):436-40. doi: 10.1097/00000421-199910000-00002.


The purpose of this study was to determine prognostic significance of age and race as independent variables and to see role of age at the onset of breast carcinoma. A retrospective study was conducted of African American and white women with breast cancer treated at SUNY-Health Science Center Brooklyn and Kings County Hospital Center from 1983 to 1993. The objective was to analyze the differences in patterns of disease onset, as related to age and prognostic factors. A total of 738 patients were analyzed for race-adjusted comparison of stage, grade, disease-free survival, and median survival. Age at the time of diagnosis was analyzed to conduct age-specific comparisons of African American (AA) and white patients. The multivariate analysis indicated that AA women develop breast cancer 10 years earlier than white women (p = 0.00001). Corrected by stage and grade, i.e., chi2 test for stage-by-stage and grade-by-grade analysis has revealed that the AA women present with higher stage (p = 0.009), increased number of positive nodes (p = 0.00007), and more estrogen receptor/ progesterone receptor-negative tumors (p = 0.005). Further studies are required to probe into the etiologic possibilities of this significant difference. The important contributing factors could be hormonal, genetic, environmental, and socioeconomic. Obesity and dietary factors also need to be evaluated. Further studies to explore genetic susceptibility by ploidy is recommended to explain this significant difference. We conclude that the onset of breast cancer among AA women occurs at a significantly younger age than in white women, and their prognostic factors are poorer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / ethnology*
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone