Background: In the United States, black and Hispanic white women with breast cancer present with more advanced stages and have poorer survival rates than non-Hispanic whites, whereas Asians and Pacific Islanders do not. However, Asians and Pacific Islanders and Hispanic whites are heterogeneous populations, and few studies have evaluated breast cancer stage, treatments, and mortality rates for subgroups of these populations.
Methods: Using data from 11 population-based tumor registries that participate in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, we conducted a retrospective cohort study to evaluate the relationship between race and ethnicity and breast cancer stage, treatments, and mortality rates. The cohort of 124,934 women diagnosed as having a first primary invasive breast carcinoma between January 1, 1992, and December 31, 1998, included 97,999 non-Hispanic whites, 10,560 blacks, 322 American Indians, 8834 Asians and Pacific Islanders, and 7219 Hispanic whites.
Results: Relative to non-Hispanic whites, blacks, American Indians, Hawaiians, Indians and Pakistanis, Mexicans, South and Central Americans, and Puerto Ricans had 1.4- to 3.6-fold greater risks of presenting with stage IV breast cancer. Blacks, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans were 20% to 50% more likely to receive or elect a first course of surgical and radiation treatment not meeting the 2000 National Comprehensive Cancer Network standards. In addition, blacks, American Indians, Hawaiians, Vietnamese, Mexicans, South and Central Americans, and Puerto Ricans had 20% to 200% greater risks of mortality after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Conclusions: Differences in breast cancer stage, treatments, and mortality rates are present by race and ethnicity. Breast cancer survival may be improved by targeting factors, particularly socioeconomic factors, that underlie these differences.