Second Cancers More Common in Black Women

Contralateral breast cancers more frequent in black women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) African-American women experience breast cancer very differently than white women. There are differences in the age of onset, disease aggressiveness and the appearance of second cancers, according to a new study.

Breast cancer is more common in white women, but second cancers appearing in the other breast are more frequently seen in black women.

"Black breast cancer survivors need to be screened carefully."

The study, led by researcher Nsouli-Maktabi Hala, a Ph.D., graduate of The George Washington University, reviewed the records of 415,664 white women and 39,887 black women aged 19 and older with breast cancer. Data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Registry (SEER) was used.

A total of 22,290 (4.89 percent) women developed a second primary breast cancer, and 18,142 (4 percent) occurred in the opposite breast (contralateral).

Researchers found that the incidence of second cancers was higher among black women, particularly those diagnosed with a first cancer at age 45 or older.

These second cancers were most likely to appear within the first two years following the primary cancer diagnosis.

There are other differences among the two groups, including:

  • Black women are more likely than whites to be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45.
  • Aggressive estrogen receptor negative cancers are seen more frequently in African-American women.
  • When the disease appears early, it's more likely to cause death in black women.
  • Incidence of diagnosis at older ages is more common in white women.
  • Second cancers in the opposite breast appear at younger ages in black women (59) than in whites (67).

This study was presented at the Fourth American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

It should be noted that research which has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal is considered preliminary.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 20, 2011
Last Updated:
September 21, 2011