Black Women Have Higher Rates of Breast Cancer Recurrence and Death

A new study shows that black women have a higher recurrence and mortality rates compared to white women for certain types of breast cancer. The study appeared in JAMA Oncology.

In 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 over 86,000 US women 18 years and older who were diagnosed with first primary stage I to III, estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer between January 2004, and December 2015. The primary endpoint was stipulated as breast cancer–specific mortality among women from different racial/ethnic groups. The researchers analyzed data from April 20 to September 27, 2020.

According to the results, black women were significantly more likely than non-Hispanic White women to have a breast cancer recurrence score greater than 25 (17.7% vs 13.7%; P < .001). Moreover, the researchers noted that 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.


“This study highlights a widespread problem that may contribute to health disparities,” said Dr. Kent Hoskins, associate professor in the UIC College of Medicine’s division of hematology/oncology, and co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research group in the University of Illinois Cancer Center via a press release.

“Research to develop and validate new medical tests frequently have inadequate representation of individuals from racial/ethnic minority groups. Because of this, new tests may be less accurate in individuals who belong to minority groups.”