Impact of breast carcinoma on African-American women: The Detroit experience

Lisa A. Newman, Kathryn Carolin, Michael Simon, Mary Kosir, William Hyrniuk, Ray Demers, Ann Grossbartschwartz, Daniel Visscher, William Peters, David Bouwman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. National and regional population-based data have demonstrated substantially worse outcome in African-American patients with breast carcinoma when compared with white patients, as well as a younger age distribution among African-American patients with breast carcinoma. The extent to which various socioeconomic, environmental, lifestyle, and genetic factors interact to account for this ethnicity-related disparity in survival is poorly understood. Greater than one-half of the inner-city population of Detroit, Michigan is African American, and greater metropolitan Detroit has been one of the contributing registries for the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program since its inception in 1973. The impact of breast carcinoma on African Americans in the Detroit area is therefore well documented and provides significant insight into the history, epidemiology, and biology of this major public health care problem. METHODS. A review of the medical literature published over the past 20 years regarding African-American patients with breast carcinoma was performed. The pertinent findings were summarized in the context of advances made in breast carcinoma screening, treatment, and risk reduction during that period. RESULTS. The large African-American population of Detroit is a major factor contributing to the excessive breast carcinoma mortality rate reported for this city, which is one of the highest in the United States. Improvements in early detection of breast carcinoma by using screening mammography have been apparent in the earlier stage distributions of breast carcinoma observed in both white and African-American patients; however, progress has lagged substantially for the latter group. Detroit SEER registry data also have shown a younger age distribution of African-American patients with breast carcinoma and higher rates of estrogen receptor negative tumors. Finally, preliminary data from health maintenance organizations have suggested improved breast carcinoma outcome for African Americans who possess greater socioeconomic benefits, but disparities in disease stage at presentation persist. CONCLUSIONS. The diverse Detroit community is ideally suited for breast carcinoma screening programs and clinical investigations that seek to address and overcome ethnicity-related survival disparities and barriers to health care. Findings from these studies can be correlated with results from similar projects in other geographic areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1834-1843
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2001


  • African Americans
  • Breast carcinoma
  • Ethnicity
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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