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Invited Commentary
August 2014

Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer: More Bad News

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Colorado, Aurora
JAMA Surg. 2014;149(8):796-797. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.44

In recent years, we have made the humbling observation that racial disparities exist for women with breast cancer in the United States. Compared with white women, black women have less access to screening,1 more aggressive tumors,2 and worse outcomes.1 Black and colleagues3 have nicely demonstrated from a retrospective review of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare–linked database that performance of sentinel node biopsy in women with pathologically node-negative breast cancer has been 12% lower for black women compared with white women. This is accompanied by the observation that black women are at higher risk of developing upper extremity lymphedema compared with their white counterparts, even when stratified by type of axillary surgery. This observation suggests that patient pathophysiology plays a role in lymphedema development.

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