Racial, ethnic backgrounds affect breast cancer: Study

It is believed that biology and genetics play a role in the development of certain types of cancers.

Houston: Women belonging to different racial and ethnic backgrounds may have varying risks of developing certain types of cancers with African-American women having a greater tendency to develop an aggressive form of breast cancer, according to a new study.

It is believed that biology and genetics play a role in the development of certain types of cancers.

No matter the type or stage of breast cancer, minority women are more likely to be diagnosed later in the disease than white women, and they are also less likely to receive recommended treatments, a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention said.

Recent studies have found that African-American women have a tendency to develop an aggressive form of breast cancer called triple negative.

They are also diagnosed at a later stage of the disease when there are few options left for treatment.

The latest study was led by Lu Chen and her colleagues, from the division of public health sciences at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The researchers reported that as compared to white women, African-American women are not only more likely to be diagnosed at later stages with the most aggressive form of the disease, but also more likely to be diagnosed at later stages for all types of breast cancer.

"There are a lot of reasons why these women have a higher incidence of particular subtypes of breast cancer that may have something to do with genetics and biological factors," said Chen.

"But being diagnosed at a later stage and not receiving treatment-these disparities we think have more to do with social, cultural and economic factors," Chen said.

The study included 102,064 women from diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds, from 18 different cancer centers who were diagnosed with breast cancer.

The study showed that African-American, Hispanic, Asian and American Indian women showed 20 per cent to 60 per cent higher rates of cancer detection with stage 2 to stage 4 breast cancers, as compared to Caucasian women.

The African-American women had a 40 per cent to 70 per cent greater risk of being diagnosed with stage 4 of any type of breast cancer, compared to white women.

The study suggests that African-American, Hispanic and Native American women have less access to screening mammograms and are also less likely to get the recommended treatment for their disease.

Knowing that non-white women overall tend to be diagnosed at later stages for all types of breast cancer, and that they receive sub-optimal treatment, could help to change that potentially life-threatening pattern.