Purpose: African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at the time of presentation than whites, and have shorter survival once diagnosed. This study examines racial differences in clinical outcomes in the setting of two large cooperative group randomized clinical trials.
Patients and methods: The study cohort consisted of 787 white (80%) and 195 African American (20%) patients with metastatic breast cancer enrolled in two successive Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) trials using taxanes in the metastatic setting. Differences in overall survival (OS), response incidence, and time to treatment failure (TTF) were examined by race. In addition, differences in the incidence of baseline and treatment-related toxicities were examined.
Results: With 779 deaths (166 African Americans and 613 whites), median OS was 14.3 months for African Americans and 18.75 months for whites (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.37; 95% CI, 1.15 to 1.63). When adjusted for prognostic factors, African Americans had a 24% increase in the hazard of death compared with whites (HR = 1.24; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.51). No significant differences in TTF or overall response to therapy were seen. No clinically significant toxicity differences were seen.
Conclusion: African Americans with metastatic breast cancer have an increased hazard of death compared with whites despite the receipt of similar per-protocol treatment, but experience no differences in TTF or overall response to therapy. We hypothesize that more direct and robust measures of comorbidities, and perhaps other factors such as receipt of subsequent therapy could help further explain the observed survival difference.