Nationwide — New research published by JAMA Oncology has revealed that the chances of dying from very early breast cancer are small. However, DCIS breast cancer (even if caught early) is much riskier for young women of all ethnicities, and black women of all ages. And to make it worse, the same disparities are seen when it comes to more advanced cancer.
DCIS (Ductal carcinoma in situ) breast cancer is the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast. It is considered to be the earliest form of breast cancer, and is non-invasive, meaning it hasn’t spread out of the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast.
The study analyzed more than 100,000 women diagnosed from 1988 to 2011, and found that 20 years after being diagnosed, the average death rate of a woman with breast cancer is just 3 percent. But the death rates are twice as high for those younger than 35 at diagnosis and in blacks.
But why are Black women more affected?
The findings did not reveal why this is the case, but it does re-open the debate on how to treat tumors that are discovered early on in women. Some tumors have previously been ignored if thought not to be cancerous or if was determined that the cancer would not spread.
Dr. Steven Narod, the lead author and a senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, says that the results may indicate that both young women and black women may need to seek more aggressive treatment including chemotherapy.
“Women diagnosed with DCIS [however] shouldn’t panic,” Narod said. “Because chances for being cured are good. Still, the study shows the disease can behave like invasive cancer and doctors should discuss rates for recurrence and death, and inform patients of all options.”
But the study has been criticized…
Dr. Richard Bleicher, a breast cancer expert at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA says that the study lacked critical information that may have influenced women’s outcomes. For example, he says the study should have included information on whether the women who died had genetic mutations that may have put them at more risk.
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