Black women may decline breast cancer treatment

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 8, 2009

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Nearly one in four African-American women with late-stage breast cancer refused potentially life-saving therapies, according to a study published online May 22 by Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society (link). The study is scheduled to appear in the journal's July 1 print issue.

Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine and Emory's Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center at Grady Memorial Hospital, both in Atlanta, identified 107 women who had been diagnosed with and/or treated for stage III breast cancer at the hospital. African-American women in the United States have nearly twice the rate of advanced breast cancer as white women, researchers said.

Although why these women refused treatment was unclear, researchers suggested the reasons could include socioeconomic and demographic factors, cultural beliefs, health care access and patient choice.

To encourage compliance with recommended treatment, which includes chemotherapy and radiation, the researchers implemented a community outreach program at their institutions. The program includes a nurse practitioner and a social worker who work with patients during treatment.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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