Adapted from the NCI Cancer Bulletin, vol. 4/no. 15, April 17, 2007 (see the current issue).
Despite equal access to health care services, differences persist in the size, stage, and grade of breast cancer for Hispanic women compared with non-Hispanic white (NHW) women, according to results from a study published April 9 in Cancer.
The study compared 139 Hispanic women and 2,118 NHW women with breast cancer who were all established members of the Kaiser Permanente Colorado health plan. The Hispanic women were diagnosed at a younger age; at a later stage of disease; with larger, higher grade tumors; and with less treatable estrogen- and progesterone-negative tumors, reported the investigators led by Dr. A. Tyler Watlington at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
"The results of this study confirm those of many previous studies that breast cancer presents differently in Hispanic women," the researchers noted. Previous research has suggested that the differences may be due to socioeconomic factors, especially lack of or inadequate health insurance and less access to care among low-income Hispanic women. However, the current study shows that "these differences were apparent even among a group of Hispanic women with equal access to care and similar health care utilization," they added.
"The results of this study, in our opinion, lend further support to the evidence for a biologic/genetic basis for these differences," the researchers stated. Future research should more carefully explore differences in clinical presentation as well as biologic differences in tumor genotypes and phenotypes, "as different strategies for breast cancer prevention may then be warranted for Hispanic women," they concluded.