MIAMI -- African-American women with breast cancer living in Washington, D.C., are more likely to experience delays in treatment regardless of insurance type, socioeconomic status and cancer characteristics such as stage and grade.
Heather A. Young, Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology at The George Washington University, said these findings underscore the difficulties in measuring the impact of race and socioeconomic status on health outcomes.
"There is likely something about race that we are still not capturing, whether it is different patterns of social support, access to transportation, or family burden, something is causing the disparities in care to persist," she said.
The data Young presented at the Third AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities was able to capture socioeconomic status, but only by measuring poverty status from U.S. Census data.
"We have yet to fully capture the variety of variables that encompass socioeconomic status," said Young.
What is clear, from this study and others, is that the time to treatment in Washington, D.C., for African-American women lags behind what is recommended by professional guidelines and is significantly longer than what is seen for white women.
"The situation is likely similar or worse in other urban areas, which may have higher rates of uninsured," said Young.
Using data from the D.C. Cancer Registry, which captured all cancer cases from 1998 to 2006, the researchers found that African-American women were 2.19-fold more likely to wait more than two months longer than white women from the time of diagnosis to treatment.
African-American women had a mean time to diagnosis of 26.1 days compared with 14.1 days for white women. This disparity appeared to increase over time. If these African-American women were diagnosed between 2001 and 2003, they were significantly more likely to wait for treatment than if they had been diagnosed between 1998 and 2000. The gap widened even further between 2004 and 2006.
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 32,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists, providing a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.