Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore racial disparities in delays in treatment and type of treatment received among breast cancer patients in three North Carolina counties represented in the Carolina Community Network to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CCN). The CCN is a regional community‐based cancer network that aims to reduce prostate, breast and colorectal cancer disparities among adult African Americans in North Carolina.

Methods: North Carolina Central Cancer Registry data on black and white women diagnosed with breast cancer in Orange, Edgecombe, and Nash counties between 2000 and 2005 (n=1205) were used to obtained information on treatment and tumor status. Using standard guidelines for breast cancer care, delay in first course of treatment, type of treatment received, and tumor receptor status were assessed.

Results: Although within the recommended guidelines, treatment delay was longer for black breast cancer patients in comparison to white patients, regardless of stage at diagnosis. Treatment delay was highest for black patients in Edgecombe, a county with the highest proportion of blacks overall. Majority of stage I and II breast cancer patients received surgery and tended to elect for breast conservation surgery over mastectomy. Estrogen and Progesterone receptor negative breast cancers were more common in blacks than whites across the three counties, especially in Edgecombe County.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest treatment standards are not equivalently met among black and white women. Findings warrant further research into the identified treatment delays and tumor type differences to improve survival for black women, especially those in Edgecombe County. These preliminary results suggest that patients in Edgecombe County may have a higher prevalence of the hormone receptor negative phenotype of breast cancer. This more aggressive type of breast cancer may be attributing to the higher mortality rates in comparison to the other two counties.

Citation Information: Cancer Prev Res 2010;3(1 Suppl):B12.