Hispanic women may be more likely to die of breast cancer than white women

Hispanic women may be at higher risk of dying from breast cancer compared with white women, a study finds.

The study ws presented this week at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center-American Assn. for Cancer Research San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Researchers looked at survival rates among 577 Hispanic and white women with invasive breast cancer who were part of the New Mexico Women’s Health Study. They discovered that Hispanic women had about a 20% higher risk of dying from breast cancer compared with white women.

But after adjusting for a number of factors, including age, cancer stage, lymph node involvement and estrogen receptor status (a marker used to determine cancer cell growth), the risk for Hispanic women was about the same as for white women.

Hispanic women who had chemotherapy were also about 1.5 times more likely to die from breast cancer compared with white women who also received the treatment.


“It is not clear how much of this ethnic difference in survival is due to socioeconomic factors influencing access to screening and treatment or to biological ones,” said Kathy Baumgartner, professor of epidemiology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky in a news release. “Some studies suggest that Hispanic women are more likely to develop [estrogen receptive] negative tumors that are resistant to chemotherapy.”

No differences were seen between the two groups for mortality rates for all causes or for non-breast cancer causes.