In a University of Arizona analysis of more than 25,000 women with breast cancer, researchers found that Hispanic women were more likely than their white female counterparts to develop advanced breast cancer. Hispanic women also had larger tumors and a higher rate of metastasis to lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis.
"Breast cancer is an understudied and poorly understood disease in the U.S. Hispanic population, and we need to understand the magnitude and profile of breast cancer in our Latina population," says Maria Elena Martinez, PhD, co-director of the Arizona Cancer Center’s Prevention and Control Program and principal investigator for the study.
Hispanic women with more advanced forms of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis have to be treated with more aggressive treatments or chemotherapy.
In a related study published in the journal Cancer, researchers at the University of Denver found that access to health care was not the reason Hispanic women get more aggressive breast cancer. "True biologic differences exist in breast cancer by ethnicity," claim the researchers according to a WebMD article describing the study.
Future research is needed to explain what biological differences cause the disparity in breast cancer development between Hispanic and non-Hispanic women.
Martinez, M. et al, 2007. “Breast Cancer Among Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White Women in Arizona,” Jour Health Care Poor and Underserved.
Watlington, T. et al, 2007. “Does Having Insurance Affect Differences in Clinical Presentation Between Hispanic and non-Hispanic White Women with Breast Cancer?” Cancer. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/114206388/ABSTRACT
DeNoon, D., 2007. “Breast Cancer Worse for Hispanic Women,” WebMD website
Science Daily, 2007. “Hispanic Women at a Higher Risk for Breast Cancer—It May be Biological http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070409082423.htm
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