African-American (AA) women with breast cancer have higher mortality rates than Caucasian woman, and some studies have suggested that this disparity may be partly explained by unequal access to medical care. The purpose of this study was to analyze racial differences in patterns and costs of care and survival among women treated for invasive breast cancer at a large academic medical center. Subjects included 331 AA and 257 Caucasian women diagnosed with stage I–III breast cancer between 1994 and 1997. Clinical, socio-demographic, and cost data were obtained from the medical record, cancer registry, and hospital financial database. Data were collected on the use of cancer directed treatments (surgery, radiation, chemo and hormonal therapy) up to 1-year post-diagnosis. Survival analyses compared disease-free and overall survival by race adjusting for age, stage, nodal involvement, ER/PR status and a diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cerebral vascular accident. There were no significant racial differences in treatment utilization and costs. The mean total 1-year treatment costs were $16,348 for AAs and $15,120 for Caucasians. While AAs had a significantly higher unadjusted relative risk (RR) of recurrence 2.09 (95% CI: 1.41–3.10) and death 1.56 (95% CI: 1.09–2.25), the multivariate adjusted analyses resulted in no significant differences in recurrence 1.38 (95% CI: 0.85–2.26) or death 1.06 (95% CI: 0.64–1.75). There was no obvious racial disparity in treatment and costs noted. Our findings support the theory that equal treatments produce equal outcomes. Improvement in screening may have an important impact on survival among minority women with breast cancer.
breast cancer costs patterns of care racial disparities survival