Chemotherapy May Improve Breast Cancer Outcomes for African-American Patients

01/26/17 By Beth Anne

A new study found that receiving chemotherapy prior to surgery may improve outcomes for African-American breast cancer patients. The researchers from Georgia State University found that receiving chemotherapy before surgery lead to reduced regional recurrence of the disease in lymph nodes and reduced distant recurrence of tumors in remote organs.

This is a particularly important finding because it may help diminish the inequality in breast cancer outcomes between African-American and European-American patients, according to an article published in the Georgia State University newsroom.

By analyzing clinical data from a large cohort of breast cancer patients, the researchers found that rates of tumor recurrence were higher for African-Americans than for European-Americans. A higher incidence of tumor recurrence can lead to a poorer prognosis, as recurring cancer is more challenging to treat.

However, the researchers found that treatment before surgery can actually reverse these recurrence trends, especially for African-American patients, said Nikita Wright, study first author and senior Ph.D. student at Georgia State’s Biology Department.

“Among patients who received neoadjuvant (prior to surgery) 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,” Wright said.

The study, published in the PLOS ONE journal, is the first clinical research that suggests chemotherapy prior to surgery may improve breast cancer recurrence rates for African-Americans.