Black women face racial disparities in breast cancer screening

racial disparities
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Black women face higher mortality rates and recurrence of breast cancer, according to researchers from University of Illinois Chicago

Researchers from University of Illinois Chicago recently conducted a study to discover if breast cancer-specific mortality among women with estrogen receptor-positive, axillary node-negative breast cancer differs by race within risk categories defined by the Oncotype Recurrence Score (RS).

The Oncotype RS is a genomic test that analyses the activity of a group of genes that can affect how a cancer is likely to behave and respond to treatment.

Dr Kent Hoskins, associate professor in the UIC College of Medicine’s division of hematology/oncology, and co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research group in the University of Illinois Cancer Center said: “Using data from the national SEER registry that included more than 70,000 patients across the U.S., we found there was a much higher mortality rate for African American women with the most common subtype of breast cancer event when they are diagnosed at an early stage.”

The research team also observed that Black women are more likely to have a high-risk RS, indicating that Black women disproportionately develop biologically aggressive tumors, but according to Hoskins, the underlying cause of this is unknown.

“This study highlights a widespread problem that may contribute to health disparities,” Hoskins said. “Research to develop and validate new medical tests frequently have inadequate representation of individuals from racial/ethnic minority groups. Because of this, new tests may be less accurate in individuals who belong to minority groups.

“Our study is just one more example of how exclusion of minority patients from research can lead to inequities in health outcomes.

“We really think there is an intersection between social determinants of health and tumor biology and that is what we are trying to understand with follow-up studies.”


The study, Association of race/ethnicity and the 21-gene Recurrence Score with breast cancer-specific mortality among US women, was published in JAMA Oncology.

The research team included Dr. Oana Danciu and Dr. Gregory Calip, who are both UI Cancer Center members, and Dr. Naomi Ko of Boston University.


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