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For African American women, breast cancer treatment isn't a given

May 22, 2009 |  3:46 pm

With a Stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy and radiation are often urgently needed. And many African American women refuse them.

In a study published in the July 1 issue of Cancer, researchers at Emory University found that of 107 women diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, of whom almost 87% were African American, a fifth of patients decided against chemotherapy. More than a fourth chose not to get radiation. (Here's more information on chemotherapy and radiation from breastcancer.org.)

African American women may be more reluctant to pursue such treatment because of the time involved (they're often caretakers of others) and, of course, because of the cost. Here's a good overview of these and related issues from netwellness.org, with information provided by Case Western Reserve University, Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati. The site points out that African American women are also generally more likely to be under-treated. 

With African American women being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer at almost twice the rate of white women, we need to figure out how to overcome such treatment resistance. Researchers in the study helped launch a community outreach clinic. That's obviously just the beginning.

Here's the abstract of the study.

And here's a statistical look at cancer in African Americans, courtesy of the American Cancer Society.

-- Tami Dennis

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