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Black Women Less Likely to Receive Optimal Breast Cancer Treatment

A new study finds that African American women with breast cancer are less likely than white women to undergo some potentially life-saving treatments. “When cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, we are seeing that African American women are not getting the optimal therapy as often as are Caucasians,” the study’s lead researcher Mousumi Banerjee told HealthDay News.

Conducted primarily by the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the study notes that white women whose cancer had spread to the lymph nodes were nearly five times more likely than African American women to take the drug tamoxifen, which can slow or stop the growth of cancer cells and prevent tumor recurrence. White women at that stage of the disease were also over three times more likely than African American women to undergo supplemental chemotherapy to kill remaining cancer cells.

According to the American Cancer Society, while the incidence of known breast cancer is greater among white women after the age of 35 than among African American women, African American women are more likely to die of the disease at all ages.

Sources:

HealthDay News 10/8/07; American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2005-2006; University of Michigan press release 10/8/07

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