Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 127, Issue 3, pp 729-738

First online:

Disparities in breast cancer characteristics and outcomes by race/ethnicity

  • Siew Loon OoiAffiliated withDivision of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Washington
  • , Maria Elena MartinezAffiliated withArizona Cancer Center, University of ArizonaMel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona
  • , Christopher I. LiAffiliated withDivision of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Washington Email author 

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Disparities in breast cancer stage and mortality by race/ethnicity in the United States are persistent and well known. However, few studies have assessed differences across racial/ethnic subgroups of women broadly defined as Hispanic, Asian, or Pacific Islander, particularly using more recent data. Using data from 17 population-based cancer registries in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, we evaluated the relationships between race/ethnicity and breast cancer stage, hormone receptor status, treatment, and mortality. The cohort consisted of 229,594 women 40–79 years of age diagnosed with invasive breast carcinoma between January 2000 and December 2006, including 176,094 non-Hispanic whites, 20,486 Blacks, 15,835 Hispanic whites, 14,951 Asians, 1,224 Pacific Islanders, and 1,004 American Indians/Alaska Natives. With respect to statistically significant findings, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Indian/Pakistani, Black, Filipino, Hawaiian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Samoan women had 1.3–7.1-fold higher odds of presenting with stage IV breast cancer compared to non-Hispanic white women. Almost all groups were more likely to be diagnosed with estrogen receptor-negative/progesterone receptor-negative (ER−/PR−) disease with Black and Puerto Rican women having the highest odds ratios (2.4 and 1.9-fold increases, respectively) compared to non-Hispanic whites. Lastly, Black, Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, and Samoan patients had 1.5–1.8-fold elevated risks of breast cancer-specific mortality. Breast cancer disparities persist by race/ethnicity, though there is substantial variation within subgroups of women broadly defined as Hispanic or Asian. Targeted, multi-pronged interventions that are culturally appropriate may be important means of reducing the magnitudes of these disparities.


Breast cancer Disparities Race Ethnicity Stage Estrogen receptor Progesterone receptor Mortality