A new study from Georgia State University (GSU) suggests African-American breast cancer patients could better their prognosis and cancer survival by undergoing chemotherapy before surgery.
The GSU investigators found when African-American breast cancer patients received pre-surgery chemotherapy they showed less recurrence of tumors outside the breast. This might reduce the substantial disparity in breast cancer outcomes that exist between European-American, and African-American patients.
Though there are about the same number of reported breast cancer cases among European-American and African-American women, African-Americans experience a more aggressive disease course with a 40 percent greater death rate than European-American patients. Recurrent breast cancer is a primary factor in the outcome disparity.
To study this issue, the GSU team analyzed the data of breast cancer patients treated from 2005 to 2015 at Atlanta’s Northside Hospital. They looked at the rates and patterns of recurring tumors following radiation, hormone, and chemotherapy treatments.
“We found that, in general, African-American breast cancer patients exhibit increased likelihood for tumor recurrence, particularly to regional and distant sites, after receiving any combination of adjuvant [post-surgical] therapy compared to European-American breast cancer patients,” said study author Nikita Wright. “This higher incidence of tumor recurrence can contribute to a poorer prognosis.”
Recurring regional and distant tumors are more difficult to treat than those that are local (in the breast), but Wright and colleagues found that pre-surgical chemotherapy reversed the recurrence trends. They discovered that African-American breast cancer patients had a better response to pre-surgical chemotherapy than European-American patients.
“Among patients who received neoadjuvant [pre-surgical] chemotherapy, African-Americans exhibited trends of lower regional and distant tumor recurrence than European-Americans, but higher local recurrence, which is easier to manage clinically and is associated with a relatively better prognosis," said Wright.
Photo credit: Ryan Lavalley