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.

2 thoughts on “African-American Women May Refuse Important Treatments for Triple Negative

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sue: Thanks so much. I really do enjoy doing this research. I wish none of us needed it, but given that we do, it’s good that docs are out there trying to improve treatments. I am also saddened about the younger women getting this disease. It is far more common among younger women. I don’t think there is any specific research that says we more mature women have a less aggressive strand, but if I find anything, I will certainly post it. Keep taking care of yourself. Pat

  2. Anonymous says:

    PatI just wanted to tell you how I appreciate your hard work compiling info about TNBC and am glad ( and envious)that you’ve made it to that all important 3 year anniversary. I do appreciate your positive spin on a very scary subject. I just finished treatment for a 3 cm TN tumor diagnosed in 9-08. It felt like a long time to be dealing with it. I am doing what I can to try to keep it away. I am not so young (it breaks my heart when I read these ladies find their TNBC while breast feeding) as I am 56 now. I do selfishly wish that that means my cancer isn’t quite as aggressive as the younger ladies is. My gut feeling is that it isn’t. Does your research show this?I wish you well on your book-very needed.Sue

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