According to the findings of a study published in the October 12, 2005, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, black women with breast cancer have lower survival rates than their white counterparts, largely because of a higher rate of comorbidities. In this study, comorbid illnesses explained ~50% of the overall survival disparity between black and white women and the majority of the competing causes survival disparity.
Study Chief C. Martin Tammemagi, PhD, of Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, said that "diabetes and hypertension are the 2 most important comorbidities accounting for survival disparities," and that effective control of these and other conditions in black breast cancer patients "should help improve their life expectancy" and resolve these differences.
The study involved 906 breast cancer patients who were followed for ~10 years. A total of 264 of the women were black, and 642 were white. Twenty-five percent of the black women being studied died of causes related to their breast cancer during this time, as did 18% of the white women. The researchers found that, in the black women, 86% had at least 1 comorbidity, compared with 66% of the white women.