White women take supplemental breast cancer therapy more often than African-Americans

November 14th, 2007 - 1:49 am ICT by admin  

Lead researcher Dr. Mousumi Banerjee said that African-Americans, whose cancer had spread to the lymph nodes were less likely to have adjuvant cancer therapy than white women.

Adjuvant therapy is treatment given to kill remaining cancer cells, in addition to the primary therapy. Several studies have suggested that adjuvant therapy may increase the chances of long-term survival.

Dr. Banerjee says that it was found during the study that white women, whose cancer had spread or become regional in nature, were five times more likely to take tamoxifen (widely-used adjuvant cancer therapy medication) and more than three times more likely to have adjuvant chemotherapy, as compared to African-American women.

The researcher also said that white and African-American women with cancer that had not spread received tamoxifen and chemotherapy at equal rates.

They did not notice any significant difference in the numbers of white and African-American women who received breast conservation surgery versus mastectomy.

It was, however, found that women with early stage breast cancer, who were covered by government health insurance, were less likely to have combination breast conserving cancer surgery and radiation. Such women were more likely to have mastectomy without radiation than patients enrolled in non-governmental plans, or private plans.

“We have seen that African American women are not getting the optimal therapy as often as white Americans,” said Dr. Banerjee, adding that it is a combination of different things.

“Some of it has to do with socio-economics, some with insurance status and/or access to care, but there are choice issues as well, especially with chemotherapy,” she added.

During the study, the researchers reviewed demographic, socio-economic and medical data from 651 women diagnosed with breast cancer in Detroit in the early to mid Nineties.

They wanted to determine the role of race in breast cancer treatment after accounting for such significant variables as socio-economic status, health insurance status, and other medical conditions that exist along with the breast cancer that may preclude use of certain treatments.

According to Dr. Banerjee, the study suggests that targeting educational interventions in a culturally sensitive way may help improve the use of adjuvant therapies among African-American women with advanced stage disease. (ANI)

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