Black women more likely to skip crucial breast cancer treatments

A new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds that black women are more likely to skip hormone therapy treatments, also known as endocrine therapy, for breast cancer.

Endocrine therapy is used to add, block, or remove naturally occurring chemicals like estrogen and progesterone that stimulate some types of breast cancer. Evidence suggests that taking endocrine therapy for up to 10 years reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence. However, between 15% and 49% of women with the disease never initiate endocrine therapy, and more than half do not take endocrine therapy drugs as recommended.

Nationally, breast cancer mortality is 41.5% higher among black women compared to white women, despite a historically lower incidence rate. Failure to receive appropriate treatment is an important cause of observed racial disparities in breast cancer mortality. Different use of endocrine therapy by race may contribute to breast cancer outcome disparities, but racial differences in treatment are poorly understood.

In this paper, researchers using data from the Carolina Breast Cancer Study investigated 1,280 women who reported being prescribed endocrine therapy; of these, 43% self-identified as black. For black women, overall, 24% reported underuse of endocrine therapy drugs, compared to 16% of


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