Even when they have the same access to health care — including regular mammograms — breast cancer seems to be particularly dangerous for Hispanic women.
At first diagnosis, compared with non-Hispanic white women, Hispanic women:
University of Denver researcher A. Tyler Watlington, M.D., M.S.P.H., and colleagues looked at data on 139 Hispanic women and 2,118 non-Hispanic white women enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente health plan for at least three years.
Earlier research has suggested that Hispanic women get more aggressive breast cancer. But most experts thought that in the United States, Hispanic women's lesser access to health care explained this disparity. Women who do not get appropriate breast cancer screening tend to have later-stage disease by the time they find out they have cancer.
But Watlington and colleagues found that the differences between Hispanic women and other women persist even when they get exactly the same health care.
"True biologic differences exist in breast cancer by ethnicity," they suggest.
Future research, Watlington and colleagues say, should explore these clinical and biological differences "as different strategies for breast cancer prevention may then be warranted for Hispanic women."
Watlington and colleagues report their findings in the May 15 issue of the American Cancer Society journal Cancer.
By Daniel DeNoon
Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D.
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