Ethnicity related differences in the survival of young breast carcinoma patients




African-American women face an increased risk of early-onset breast carcinoma compared to white American women, and breast carcinoma has been reported to be particularly aggressive in premenopausal women.


Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program data were analyzed for 507 African-American and 1378 white patients from Detroit diagnosed with breast carcinoma under the age of 40 between 1990 and 1999.


The proportion of in situ disease detected in African-American patients between 1995 and 1999 nearly doubled compared to the 1990-1994 interval (11.3% compared to 6.4%) but was consistently lower than the proportion of in situ disease seen in white patients for the same intervals (15.7% and 16.4% respectively). Evaluation of patients with invasive disease revealed that African-American patients had larger mean tumor size (3.4 cm versus 2.6 cm; P < 0.001), lower rates of localized disease (42.4% versus 52.1%; P < 0.001), higher rates of estrogen receptor negativity (61.9% versus 44.4%; P < 0.001), and higher proportions of medullary tumors (5.8% versus 3.3%; P = 0.021). Cox proportional hazards survival analysis adjusted for age, tumor size, nodal status, hormone receptor status, and histology showed higher mortality rates for African-American patients at all disease stages. Relative risk of death for African-American patients was 1.94 in patients with localized disease (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.23–3.05), 1.58 for regional disease (95% CI = 1.18–2.11), and 2.32 for distant disease (95% CI = 1.15–4.69).


These findings show that young African-American breast carcinoma patients face an increased mortality risk. Additional studies evaluating risk and treatment response in this subset of patients are warranted. Cancer 2002;95:21–7. © 2002 American Cancer Society.

DOI 10.1002/cncr.10639