Association of Race/Ethnicity and the 21-Gene Recurrence Score With Breast Cancer-Specific Mortality Among US Women

JAMA Oncol. 2021 Mar 1;7(3):370-378. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.7320.


Importance: Given the widespread use of the 21-gene recurrence score for identifying candidates for adjuvant chemotherapy, it is important to examine the performance of the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test in diverse patient populations to validate this approach for tailoring treatment in women in racial/ethnic minority groups.

Objective: To examine whether breast cancer-specific mortality for women with hormone-dependent breast cancer differs by race/ethnicity across risk categories defined by the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test and whether the prognostic accuracy of the 21-gene recurrence score differs by race/ethnicity.

Design, setting, and participants: This retrospective, population-based cohort study used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Oncotype DX 2004-2015 database to obtain breast cancer-specific survival data on US women 18 years and older who were diagnosed with first primary stage I to III, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2015, and had tumor testing through the Genomic Health Clinical Laboratory. Data were analyzed from April 20 to September 27, 2020.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was breast cancer-specific mortality among women from different racial/ethnic groups stratified by the 21-gene recurrence score risk categories. Secondary analyses compared the prognostic accuracy of the recurrence score among the different racial/ethnic groups.

Results: A total of 86 033 patients with breast cancer (mean [SD] age, 57.6 [10.6] years) with Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test information were available for the analysis, including 64 069 non-Hispanic White women (74.4%), 6719 non-Hispanic Black women (7.8%), 7944 Hispanic women (9.2%), 6950 Asian/Pacific Islander women (8.0%), and 351 American Indian/Alaska Native women (0.4%). Black women were significantly more likely than non-Hispanic White women to have a recurrence score greater than 25 (17.7% vs 13.7%; P < .001). Among women with axillary node-negative tumors, competing risk models adjusted for age, tumor characteristics, and treatment found higher breast cancer-specific mortality for Black compared with non-Hispanic White women within each recurrence score risk stratum, with subdistribution hazard ratios of 2.54 (95% CI, 1.44-4.50) for Black women with recurrence scores of 0 to 10, 1.64 (95% CI, 1.23-2.18) for Black women with recurrence scores of 11 to 25, and 1.48 (95% CI, 1.10-1.98) for Black women with scores greater than 25. The prognostic accuracy of the recurrence score was significantly lower for Black women, with a C index of 0.656 (95% CI, 0.592-0.720) compared with 0.700 (95% CI, 0.677-0.722) (P = .002) for non-Hispanic Whites.

Conclusions and relevance: In this cohort study, Black women in the US were more likely to have a high-risk recurrence score and to die of axillary node-negative breast cancer compared with non-Hispanic White women with comparable recurrence scores. The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test has lower prognostic accuracy in Black women, suggesting that genomic assays used to identify candidates for adjuvant chemotherapy may require model calibration in populations with greater racial/ethnic diversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Ethnicity* / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups
  • Retrospective Studies