Black Women Receive Less Timely Breast Cancer Treatment

The trend persists regardless of socioeconomic status.

Black women experience longer waits for treatment initiation after a breast cancer diagnosis and prolonged duration of treatment versus White women, according to a study published online in Cancer.

Marc A. Emerson, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues evaluated disparities in time to treatment and treatment duration by race and age among 2,841 patients with stage I to III disease participating in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study.

The researchers found that 32 percent of younger Black women were in the highest quartile of treatment duration versus 22 percent of younger White women. A higher frequency of delayed treatment was seen among Black women (relative frequency difference, 5.5 percent) and prolonged treatment duration (relative frequency difference, 8.8 percent).

There was a significant association between socioeconomic status (SES) and treatment delay among White women (relative frequency difference, 3.5 percent). Still, treatment delay was high at all levels of SES for Black women (e.g., 11.7 percent in high-SES Black women versus 10.6 and 6.7 percent among low- and high-SES White women, respectively). Among Black women, neither SES nor access to care classes were significantly associated with delayed initiation.

“Even among women with low socioeconomic status, we still saw fewer delays among White women, underscoring the disparate experience of Black women, who appear to experience unique barriers,” Emerson said in a statement.

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