Many different factors contribute to white women living longer after breast cancer than African American women. These include less frequent mammogram screenings, longer follow-up time after an abnormal mammogram, and delays and other differences in diagnosis and treatment.
A study suggests that some of the difference in outcomes after early breast cancer between African American and white women may be because breast cancers in African American women are biologically different than breast cancers in white women. This means that the genetic makeup of the cancers is different.
In the study, the timing of diagnosis and treatment, cancer stage, and type of treatment were the same between the two groups of women. Still, 10 years after diagnosis, African American women with early breast cancer had a lower survival rate (76%) than white women (86%).
EVERY woman with breast cancer—no matter her age, height, weight, ethnicity, or medical history—is unique. And the same is true of every breast cancer. The challenge is to better understand the differences in breast cancer biology. Researchers hope to develop tests that can give us a fuller, more complete picture of a cancer's genetic makeup. Then treatments can be prescribed that are personalized for each cancer.