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Women of Certain Ethnicities Have Longer Treatment Delays For Breast Cancer

Apr 25, 2013 06:08 AM EDT
Breast cancer

(Photo : REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil )

Women who delay treatment for breast cancer have low survival rates, and this is especially noticed in women of African-American/Hispanic origins who have public or no insurance.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in women in the U.S. Despite its high prevalence, researchers aren't sure why normal breast cells turn cancerous. According to most experts, breast cancer is caused by a combination of genetic, hormonal and environmental factors.

According to the current study, about 5 to 6 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are diagnosed in young women, and these cancers are generally more invasive than cancers detected in older women.

"The data presented herein provide a unique perspective that can be used to improve the outcome of breast cancer in adolescents and young adult women. Our findings demonstrate that young women with a delay in surgical treatment (>6 weeks) have shorter survival compared with those who had surgery closer to their diagnosis," the study noted.

The study was based on data from more than 8,800 cases of breast cancer cases in young people between 1997 and 2006. Treatment delay time or TDT was defined as the number of weeks between the date of diagnosis and date of treatment.

Study results showed that women with different ethnicities had different TDTs, with Hispanics and African-American women (15.3) being more likely to have a TDT longer than 6 weeks when compared with women who were non-Hispanic white (8.1 percent). Other factors that affected TDT were insurance (women with public or no insurance had longer TDT when compared with private insurance) and socio-economic status.

"In conclusion, it is crucial to prevent further physician-related delays before and after the diagnosis of breast cancer is established to maximize the survival of these young women who are in the most productive time of their life," the study concluded.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Surgery.                                                               

According to estimates by the National Cancer Institute, 232,340 new cases of female breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2013 in the U.S., and nearly 40,000 women will die due to breast cancer.

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