Women's College Hospital - Health Care for Women, Revolutionized

Jump to body content

Risk of death from early stage breast cancer highest in black women: study

Black women have a higher risk of death seven years after being diagnosed with stage one breast cancer compared to non-Hispanic white women and other major ethnicities, according to a new study led by Women’s College Hospital’s Dr. Steven Narod and Dr. Javaid Iqbal.

New study finds differences in early breast cancer diagnosis and survival by ethnicity and race

January 13, 2015  |  Download Release

Black women have a higher risk of death seven years after being diagnosed with stage one breast cancer compared to non-Hispanic white women and other major ethnicities, according to a new study led by Women’s College Hospital’s Dr. Steven Narod and Dr. Javaid Iqbal.

The study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found black women were less likely to be diagnosed with early stage breast cancer next to non-Hispanic white women, but more likely to die of breast cancer with small-sized tumours.

“For women with breast cancers of the same size, black women are more likely to experience spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes or other organs than white women,” said Dr. Narod, director of the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at Women's College Research Institute and Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer. On the other hand, our study found Japanese women experienced much better survival than white women.”

Researchers analyzed the medical records of 373,563 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2004 and 2011. When comparing non-Hispanic white women with Hispanic, black, Chinese, Japanese, South Asian women and other Asian women, along with other ethnicities, they found:

  • Japanese women were more likely to be diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer.
  • Black women were less likely to be diagnosed with the early stage cancer.
  • The risk of death from stage 1 breast cancer seven years after diagnosis was lower among South Asian women and highest among Black women.
  • Black women were more likely to have small sized breast cancer that spread throughout the body.
  • Black women were more likely to die of breast cancer with small sized tumours.

While differences in tumour characteristics may explain some of these findings, the researchers note factors including socioeconomic status, lifestyle and diet, access to and use of healthcare and adherence to treatment, may all play a role in the disparities among the ethnic groups.

“We are interested in all the factors which predict whether a breast cancer will or will not spread,” said Dr. Narod. “Traditionally, as researchers, we have focused on the cancer itself and the treatment, but there are other important factors that may play a role, including lifestyle. This study is so important because it shows that ethnic background is one of those factors.”

 

-30-

 

Jump to top page

About

Women’s College Hospital is advancing the health of women and improving healthcare options for all by delivering innovative models of ambulatory care. Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, the hospital is Canada’s leading academic, ambulatory hospital and a world leader in women’s health. With more than 800 physicians, nurses and health professionals, the hospital offers a range of specialized clinics and programs that are bridging the gaps in the health system. Women’s College Hospital is helping to keep people out of hospital by being at the forefront of cutting-edge research, diagnosis and treatment that will help prevent illness and enable patients to manage their health conditions. This healthcare enables Canadians to live healthier, more independent lives. At the Women’s College Research Institute, scientists combine science and patient care to develop innovative solutions to today’s greatest health challenges.

More News & Media »

Media inquiries

Please contact Media Relations

Email: media@wchospital.ca

Phone: 416-323-6400 ext. 4054


Media Kit

Please visit our Media Kit page for resources such as images, B-roll video and backgrounders on Women's College Hospital.

  • Fully affiliated with:
  • University of Toronto
  • A member of:
  • Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO)