May 26, 2009

Many African American Women Refuse Cancer Treatments

One in four African American women diagnosed with late stage breast cancer refuse essential life saving treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, according to a new study.

Investigators analyzed the findings between 2000 and 2006 from an inner city hospital in Atlanta that sees predominantly African American patients. Among the 107 cases of stage III breast cancer treated or diagnosed by the hospital, about 87 percent were  African American women.  More than 20 percent of these patients refused chemotherapy, and 26 percent of patients who were recommended for chest radiation refused treatment.

African American women have nearly twice the rate of advanced breast cancer than white women in the United States. Authors say the reason behind treatment refusals are unclear, but possible explanations may include socioeconomic and demographic factors, cultural beliefs or healthcare access.

A community outreach program has since been implemented at the Atlanta hospital to encourage the cancer treatments and lessen fears.

SOURCE: Cancer, July 2009