African-American and white women from similar backgrounds treated similarly for estrogen-negative breast cancer had similar outcomes, according to research published in the May issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The bulk of the participants were from low-income neighborhoods in Louisiana and were treated at the Louisiana State University Health Services Center.

The five-year overall survival rates for both groups was 77 percent. Ten-year mortality rates were also similar, with 31 percent of the African-Americans dying in that time frame compared with 26 percent of the whites.

The study looked at 375 women with estrogen-negative disease who were treated from 1998 through 2008. Tumor size and grade; nodal involvement; and treatment were all similar. The whites had a slightly higher income than the African-American patients. African-Americans had a higher incidence of estrogen-negative (54 percent) than white women (39 percent.)

In previous studies, outcomes for African-Americans have been significantly worse than for whites. Some researchers argue that African-Americans might have a genetically different disease that responds poorly to typical treatments; others say the cause is socioeconomic. If the results of this study are borne out in future research, neither position may hold true. Race may be a factor in getting the disease, but not in overall reaction to treatment.

The study did not contain data on Her2, as it was not included in earlier data, so the results were not specific to triple-negative breast cancer.

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