Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy May Benefit African-American Women with Breast Cancer

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A significant disparity in breast cancer mortality exists between African-American and European-American patients.
A significant disparity in breast cancer mortality exists between African-American and European-American patients.

Administering chemotherapy to African-American women with breast cancer prior to surgery may help improve their prognosis and survival rates from the disease. Researchers at Georgia State University and colleagues have published a study in the journal PLOS ONE that demonstrated African-American patients with breast cancer who receive chemotherapy prior to surgery exhibit trends of reduced regional recurrence and distant recurrence of tumors.1

There is a significant disparity in breast cancer mortality between African-American and European-American patients with breast cancer. Despite a similar number of reported cases of breast cancer among African-American and European-American women, African-Americans experience a more aggressive clinical course and a 40% higher death rate than European-Americans among premenopausal and menopausal patients.

Recurrent breast cancer has hindered the successful management of this disease for decades and is one of the primary factors for the racial disparity in prognosis and outcomes. Differences in recurrence rates and patterns between the races following various forms of treatment have not been thoroughly investigated. This is the first clinical study to suggest that neoadjuvant chemotherapy may improve breast cancer recurrence rates and patterns in African-Americans. 

Researchers looked at 1850 African-American women and 7931 European-American women, who were treated from 2005 to 2015. They found that African-American patients with breast cancer responded better to neoadjuvant chemotherapy than European-American patients. The study showed that African-Americans exhibited trends of lower regional and distant tumor recurrence than European-Americans but higher local recurrence among those who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy.


1. Wright N, Xia J, Cantuaria G, et al. Distinctions in Breast Tumor Recurrence Patterns Post-Therapy among Racially Distinct Populations. PLoS One. 2017 Jan 13;12(1):e0170095. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170095 

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