Race/ethnicity and changing US socioeconomic gradients in breast cancer incidence: California and Massachusetts, 1978-2002 (United States)

Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Mar;17(2):217-26. doi: 10.1007/s10552-005-0408-1.


Objective: We tested the hypothesis that the US socioeconomic gradient in breast cancer incidence is declining, with the decline most pronounced among racial/ethnic groups with the highest incidence rates.

Methods: We geocoded the invasive incident breast cancer cases for three US population-based cancer registries covering: Los Angeles County, CA (1978-1982, 1988-1992, 1998-2002; n = 68,762 cases), the San Francisco Bay Area, CA (1978-1982, 1988-1992, 1998-2002; n = 37,210 cases) and Massachusetts (1988-1992, 1998-2002; n = 48,111 cases), linked the records to census tract area-based socioeconomic measures, and, for each socioeconomic stratum, computed average annual breast cancer incidence rates for the 5-year period straddling the 1980, 1990, and 2000 census, overall and by race/ethnicity and gender.

Results: Our findings indicate that the socioeconomic gradient in breast cancer incidence is: (a) relatively small (at most 1.2) and stable among US white non-Hispanic and black women; (b) sharper and generally increasing among Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander American women; and (c) cannot be meaningfully analyzed without considering effect modification by race/ethnicity and immigration.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that secular changes in US socioeconomic gradients in breast cancer incidence exist and vary by race/ethnicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • California / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors