Racial Disparities Seen in Breast Cancer Radiotherapy

Caucasian women more likely than women of other races to receive radiotherapy after surgery
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Older Caucasian women with invasive breast cancer were more likely to receive radiotherapy following surgery than women of other races, a disparity seen nationwide, according to research published online Dec. 14 in Cancer.

Grace L. Smith, M.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues analyzed data from 34,080 women in a national Medicare database who were treated with breast-conserving surgery for incident invasive breast cancer in 2003. All women were at least 65 years old.

The researchers note that, following surgery, 74 percent of Caucasian women, 65 percent of African-American women, and 66 percent of women of other races received radiotherapy. After adjusting for a number of factors, Caucasian women were 48 percent more likely to have radiotherapy than African-American women. The disparity varied by geographic region but was seen in most states.

"Our analysis helps define the scope of the treatment disparities in radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery and underscores the concern that this treatment disparity occurs not merely in isolation but is instead a problem that exists on a national scale," the authors write.

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