One in four African American women with late stage breast cancer refused chemotherapy and radiation therapy, says research to be published in the July 1, 2009 issue of Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society.
Researchers reviewed stage III breast cancer data from 2000 to 2006 from an inner city hospital in Atlanta that serves a large African American population.
They identified 107 cases diagnosed, treated or both from 2000 to 2006. Roughly 87 percent of these cases were in African American women; 29 percent of all cases were triple negative.
• 20.5 percent of patients with stage III breast cancer refused chemotherapy.
• 26.3 percent who should have received chest radiation refused.
• There was no difference in marital status, religious background, or age of the patients who refused either chemotherapy or radiation compared with the patients who received recommended care.
Why did some women refuse care? Researchers aren’t sure why, but they speculate that a range of factors could be involved: socioeconomic and demographic factors, cultural beliefs, healthcare access, additional illnesses, and patient choice.
But here’s the neat part:
As a result of the study, researchers have implemented a community outreach program that includes a nurse practitioner and a social worker who follow all patients throughout their cancer treatments, ensuring that they get proper care. All women should have this sort of resource, but this is a good beginning.
Source: “Characteristics and treatment modalities for African American Women diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer.” Monica Rizzo, Mary Jo Lund, Marina Mosunjac, Harvey Bumpers, Leslie Holmes, Ruth O’ Regan, Otis W. Brawley, and Sheryl Gabram. CANCER; Published Online: May 22, 2009 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24334); Print Issue Date: July 1, 2009.