Black Women With Breast Cancer Wait Longer To Receive Treatment Than White Women

A retrospective study observed racial disparities in diagnosis-to-treatment times for Black women with breast cancer compared to White women.

“Diagnosis-to-treatment interval is an important quality measure that is recognized by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, and the American Society of Breast Surgeons and the National Quality Measures for Breast Care. The aim of this study was to assess factors related to delays in receiving breast cancer treatment,” explained the researchers.

Data spanning 2002 through 2010 were collected from the South Carolina Central Cancer Registry (SCCCR) and Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs (RFA) to assess race-based differences in diagnosis-to-treatment time by treatment: adjuvant hormone receipt, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Diagnosis-to-treatment time was calculated in days. Comparisons were made using chi-square tests and logistic regression and generalized linear models.

Black women experienced delays in diagnosis-to-treatment times compared to White women in all four treatments assessed, with the biggest different in adjuvant hormone therapy, for which Black women waited an average 25 days longer than White women. They received surgery and chemotherapy about a week after White women (average, eight days and seven days, respectively), and for radiotherapy, they waited an average three days longer than White women.

When assessing women with local stage cancer, Black women, compared to White women, had a later time to surgery (odds ratio [OR], 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-2.2). Disparities also persisted when comparing Black versus White women living in rural areas, with Black women more likely to receive delayed chemotherapy (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.1-3.7). Unmarried Black women, compared to married White women, were more likely to receive late radiotherapy (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.0-4.0).

The study was published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Disparities.

“To improve timely receipt of effective breast cancer treatments, programs aimed at reducing racial disparities may need to target subgroups of Black breast cancer patients based on their social determinants of health and geographic residence,” the study authors concluded.