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Keywords:

  • chemotherapy;
  • ethnicity;
  • locally advanced breast cancer

Abstract: Black women with breast cancer have significantly poorer survival rates, a more advanced stage distribution, and are diagnosed at younger ages compared to white patients in the United States. We evaluated tumor response and survival with respect to race and age after induction chemotherapy. The study population consisted of 303 patients (229 white, 74 black) registered in two prospective trials of induction chemotherapy for locally advanced breast cancer [stage II (T geqslant R: gt-or-equal, slanted 4 cm), stage III (noninflammatory), and stage IV (supraclavicular lymph node involvement only)] between 1989 and 1996. Chemotherapy regimens utilized 5-fluorouracil, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin (FAC). Response was defined as complete (CR, no clinical/radiographic detectable disease), partial (PR, geqslant R: gt-or-equal, slanted50% reduction in disease), minor (MR, <50% reduction), no change (NC), or progressive disease (PD). Median follow-up was 58 months; survival was calculated using the Kaplan–Meier method. There was no significant difference in age at presentation (54% of black patients compared to 58% of white patients <50 years of age). The black patients had significantly more advanced stages of disease at diagnosis (50% of black patients compared to 30% of white patients with stage IIIB disease; p = 0.03). For both age groups together, tumor response, 5-year overall survival (OS), and 5-year disease-free survival (DFS) rates were similar between the black and white patients. A trend was noted that the younger black patients were more likely to have a clinical CR or PR; this did not translate into a survival advantage. Despite the more advanced stage distribution for black women with breast cancer, induction chemotherapy yields high response rates (especially for younger black patients) and survival rates equivalent to white patients.