Racial differences in breast carcinoma survival

Cancer. 2000 Jan 1;88(1):114-23. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0142(20000101)88:1<114::aid-cncr16>3.0.co;2-j.


Background: Survival after breast carcinoma diagnosis is significantly worse among African American women for reasons unknown. The purpose of this study was to update reports on the National Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program and to examine the effect of race on breast carcinoma survival.

Methods: Subjects were 135,424 women diagnosed with primary breast carcinoma between 1988-1995. Patient age, tumor stage at the time of diagnosis, hormone receptor status, tumor histology, menopausal status, and survival were compared by race category.

Results: African American women diagnosed with breast carcinoma (n = 11,159) had a significantly increased risk of death from breast carcinoma and from all cancers compared with white women (n = 124,265), independent of the effects of other predictor variables. African American women were significantly younger at the time of diagnosis, with approximately 33% of the population age </= 50 years, compared with slightly <25% of the white women belonging to that younger age group. African American women were significantly more likely to present with advanced stages of breast carcinoma and, within each stage category, had significantly poorer survival compared with white women. African American women were significantly less likely to have tumors positive for estrogen or progesterone receptors, as well as histologically confirmed lobular and tubular carcinomas, whereas they were more likely to have inflammatory, medullary, and papillary histology compared with white women.

Conclusions: The results of the current study show that race is an independent predictor of survival from breast carcinoma. These findings are consistent with other large, population-based studies of racial differences in breast carcinoma survival and have been comported by studies of racial differences in the molecular biology of breast carcinoma, thus providing support for the epidemiologic credibility of the independence of the association.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • SEER Program
  • Survival Rate
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor