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J Am Coll Surg. 1999 Jul;189(1):41-5.

Is race a poor prognostic factor in breast cancer?

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  • 1State University of New York, Health Science Center at Brooklyn, USA.



African American breast cancer patients have a higher mortality rate than their Caucasian counterparts. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether race is a poor prognostic factor in breast cancer survival after multiple other prognostic factors are taken into account.


The tumor registry data from two institutions between the years 1982 and 1995 were combined for the analysis. A total of 1,745 patients, including 1,297 African American and 448 Caucasian women, were available for analysis. Race, age, income, stage, histologic findings, type of operation, and treating institution were evaluated as possible key prognostic variables.


In a univariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis, African American patients with breast cancer were 1.27 times more likely to die than Caucasians when death from disease was measured (p = 0.01, 95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.47). When all factors were included in a Cox regression analysis, only the stage of disease at diagnosis, age, and whether the patient had a therapeutic surgical treatment were statistically significant. Race, income, hospital, and histologic findings were not significant, although they were significant when used in a univariate analysis.


Poor survival of African American breast cancer patients seems to be related to their advanced stage at presentation and young age. To improve survival in these women, efforts should be concentrated on aggressive screening at a young age to detect the disease at an earlier stage.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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