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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1999 Sep 1;91(17):1487-91.

Race and differences in breast cancer survival in a managed care population.

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Josephine Ford Cancer Center and Center for Clinical Effectiveness, Henry Ford Health Sciences Center, Detroit, MI, USA.



African-American women with breast cancer have poorer survival than European-American women. After adjustment for socioeconomic variables, survival differences diminish but do not disappear, possibly because of residual differences in health care access, biology, or behavior. This study compared breast cancer survival in African-American and European-American women with similar health care access.


We measured survival in women with breast cancer who are served by a large medical group and a metropolitan Detroit health maintenance organization where screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up are based on standard practices and mammography is a covered benefit. We abstracted data on African-American and European-American women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer from January 1986 through April 1996 (n = 886) and followed these women for survival through April 1997 (137 deaths).


African-American women were diagnosed at a later stage than were European-American women. Median follow-up was 50 months. Five-year survival was 77% for African-American and 84% for European-American women. The crude hazard ratio for African-American women relative to European-American women was 1.6 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1-2.2). Adjusting only for stage, the hazard ratio was 1.3 (95% CI = 0.9-1.9). Adjusting only for sociodemographic factors (age, marital status, and income), the hazard ratio was 1.2 (95% CI = 0.8-1.9). After adjusting for age, marital status, income, and stage, the hazard ratio was 1.0 (95% CI = 0.7-1.5).


Among women with similar medical care access since before their diagnoses, we found ethnic differences in stage of breast cancer at diagnosis. Adjustment for this difference and for income, age, and marital status resulted in a negligible effect of race on survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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