Breast Cancer Worse for Hispanic Women
More Aggressive Breast Cancers Seen in Hispanic Women
April 9, 2007 -- Hispanic women get more aggressive breast cancers than
non-Hispanic white women, an analysis of Kaiser Permanente data shows.
Even when they have the same access to health care -- including regular
mammograms -- breast cancer seems to be particularly dangerous for Hispanic
At first diagnosis, compared with non-Hispanic white women, Hispanic
- Are younger at the age of first breast cancer diagnosis.
- Are 2.7 times more likely to have stage IV breast cancer -- that is, cancer
that has already spread beyond the breast.
- Have 2.25 times more poorly differentiated tumors -- that is, tumors with a
cell type that means poorer prognosis.
- Have a twofold risk of larger tumors.
- Have a nearly twofold higher risk of estrogen-negative cancer, meaning that
the cancer cannot be treated with some of the most effective cancer drugs.
University of Denver researcher A. Tyler Watlington, MD, MSPH, and
colleagues looked at data on 139 Hispanic women and 2,118 non-Hispanic white
women enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente health plan for at least three years.
Earlier research has suggested that Hispanic women get more aggressive
breast cancer. But most experts thought that in the U.S., Hispanic women's
lesser access to health care explained this disparity. Women who do not get
appropriate breast cancer screening tend to have later-stage disease by the
time they find out they have cancer.
But Watlington and colleagues found that the differences between Hispanic
women and other women persist even when they get exactly the same health
"True biologic differences exist in breast cancer by ethnicity,"
Future research, Watlington and colleagues say, should explore these
clinical and biological differences "as different strategies for breast
cancer prevention may then be warranted for Hispanic women."
Watlington and colleagues report their findings in the May 15 issue of the
American Cancer Society journal Cancer.