Racial differences in diagnosis, treatment, and clinical delays in a population-based study of patients with newly diagnosed breast carcinoma

Cancer. 2004 Apr 15;100(8):1595-604. doi: 10.1002/cncr.20169.


Background: Few studies have addressed the issue of whether delays in the interval between medical consultation and the diagnosis and treatment of breast carcinoma are greater for African American women than for white women. The authors examined differences with respect to these delays and analyzed the factors that may have contributed to such differences among women ages 20-54 years who had invasive breast carcinoma diagnosed between 1990 and 1992 and who lived in Atlanta, Georgia.

Methods: A total of 251 African American women and 580 white women were interviewed and had their medical records reviewed. The authors estimated racial differences in delay times and used polytomous logistic regression to determine the contributions of various factors (socioeconomic and other) to these differences.

Results: Although most women in both groups were treated within 3 months of initial consultation, 22.4% of African American women and 14.3% of white women had clinical delays of > 3 months. Compared with white women, African American women were more likely to experience delays in diagnosis and treatment. Access to care (as represented by method of detection and insurance status) and poverty index partially accounted for these differences in delay time; however, racial differences in terms of delayed treatment and diagnosis remained even after adjustment for contributing factors.

Conclusions: The findings of the current study suggest that among women ages 20-54 years who have breast carcinoma, potentially clinically significant differences in terms of delayed diagnosis and treatment exist between African American women and white women. Improvements in access to care and in socioeconomic circumstances may address these differences to some degree, but additional research is needed to identify other contributing factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Insurance, Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Whites*