The impact of race and age on response to neoadjuvant therapy and long-term outcomes in Black and White women with early-stage breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2023 Jul;200(1):75-83. doi: 10.1007/s10549-023-06943-x. Epub 2023 Apr 29.


Purpose: There are a paucity of data and a pressing need to evaluate response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) and determine long-term outcomes in young Black women with early-stage breast cancer (EBC).

Methods: We analyzed data from 2196 Black and White women with EBC treated at the University of Chicago over the last 2 decades. Patients were divided into groups based on race and age at diagnosis: Black women [Formula: see text] 40 years, White women [Formula: see text] 40 years, Black women [Formula: see text] 55 years, and White women [Formula: see text] 55 years. Pathological complete response rate (pCR) was analyzed using logistic regression. Overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) were analyzed using Cox proportional hazard and piecewise Cox models.

Results: Young Black women had the highest risk of recurrence, which was 22% higher than young White women (p = 0.434) and 76% higher than older Black women (p = 0.008). These age/racial differences in recurrence rates were not statistically significant after adjusting for subtype, stage, and grade. In terms of OS, older Black women had the worst outcome. In the 397 women receiving NACT, 47.5% of young White women achieved pCR, compared to 26.8% of young Black women (p = 0.012).

Conclusions: Black women with EBC had significantly worse outcomes compared to White women in our cohort study. There is an urgent need to understand the disparities in outcomes between Black and White breast cancer patients, particularly in young women where the disparity in outcome is the greatest.

Keywords: Black women; Disparities; Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; Pathological complete response; Young women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors*
  • Black or African American
  • Breast Neoplasms* / ethnology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Racial Groups*
  • White