Black women experience longer waiting periods before treatment is initiated than White women following a breast cancer diagnosis, as well as a prolonged treatment duration compared with White women, according to research published in Cancer.

Prior research had shed light on the higher rates of mortality from breast cancer among Black women than White women, despite similar rates of disease occurrence, according to the current study. The disparity in mortality rate was found in this research to be especially high among younger Black women.

Based on these results, a research team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center investigated whether the time to treatment and the duration of treatment were contributing factors to the higher mortality rate.

The team analyzed data from 2841 participants with stages 1 to 3 breast cancer from the Carolina Breast Cancer Study, which was a population-based study of women with invasive breast cancer. The participants included in the study were roughly equal numbers of Black and White women.

With an overall median time to treatment initiation at 34 days, the researchers found that 13.4% of Black women had a delayed time to treatment, and 7.9% of White women experienced such delays. Additionally, 29.9% of Black women had a prolonged treatment duration, whereas 21.1% of White women did.

Young Black women were also in the highest quartile of treatment at 32%, compared with 22.3% of young White women. Furthermore, 27.9% of older Black women had prolonged treatment duration, whereas 19.9% of older White women experienced this.

Also, 11.7% of Black women of a high socioeconomic status experienced delays in initiating treatment, whereas 6.7% of White women of a high socioeconomic status experienced delays.

"Even among women with low socioeconomic status, we still saw fewer delays among White women, underscoring the disparate experience of Black women, who appear to experience unique barriers," said lead author Marc Emerson, PhD, in a press release.

Black women may be less likely to receive timely treatment for breast cancer. Wiley; September 21, 2020. Accessed October 27, 2020.