LSU Studies Racial/Ethnic Differences in Utilization of Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients

In this article, Dr. Tekeda Ferguson, Dr. Lu Zhang, and colleagues, cover the racial/ethnic differences in the utilization of chemotherapy among stage I-III breast cancer patients.   As chemotherapy has improved breast cancer survival, whether there are racial/ethnic differences in receiving chemotherapy is of public health interest. As black women have a higher likelihood to be diagnosed with more aggressive breast cancer subtypes, such as tumors with hormonal receptor (HR) negative and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) negative (HR-/HER2-), known as triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), white women have a higher incidence of less aggressive subtypes, such as tumors with HR+/HER2-. The disproportionate distribution of tumor subtype could mask the underlying racial difference in chemotherapy use since aggressive subtype is frequently associated with more chemotherapy use. To better understand the breast cancer-related health disparity, it was necessary to examine the racial difference in chemotherapy use within each subtype. Utilizing data from ten population-based cancer registries of the National Program of Cancer Registries, This article shows that differences in race and ethnicity in chemotherapy (chemo) use vary by breast cancer subtypes. They found non-hispanic black (NHB) and Hispanic breast cancer patients with certain tumor subtypes used more chemotherapy than non-hispanic white (NHW), which is encouraging and can be considered as improved equality of health care access over the past twenty years. However, NHB and Hispanic patients are still less likely to receive timely chemotherapy, which is an indicator of under-treatment experienced by minority patients.  Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Zhang are with the  Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public Health.

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