(HealthDay News) — For Black and non-Black breast cancer patients, geographic region is significantly associated with risk for treatment delays, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in Cancer.
Katherine E. Reeder‐Hayes, M.D., from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted a retrospective observational cohort study involving patients with breast cancer in North Carolina between 2004 and 2017 from the Cancer Information and Population Health Resource. A total of 32,626 patients older than 18 years of age with stage I to III breast cancer who received surgery or chemotherapy as their first treatment were included. Treatment delay was defined as >60 days from diagnosis to first treatment.
Of the patients included, 19.0 percent were Black. The researchers found that the likelihood of experiencing treatment delay >60 days was increased for Black patients (15.0 percent of Black versus 8.0 percent of non-Black patients). In the highest-risk region, the age-adjusted relative risk for delay was about twice that in the lowest-risk region for Black and non-Black patients (relative risks, 2.1 and 1.9, respectively). Inter-region differences were slightly attenuated after adjustment for clinical and sociodemographic features. There was variation observed by region in the magnitude of the racial gap in treatment delay, from 0.0 to 9.4 percent.
“These findings suggest that the structure of local health care systems, rather than characteristics of the patients themselves, may better explain why some patients experience treatment delays and other adverse cancer outcomes,” Reeder-Hayes said in a statement.
Two authors received funding paid to their institution by the Pfizer Medical Foundation.