Indigenous U.S. women less likely to receive breast-conserving treatment for invasive breast cancer
American Indian and Alaska Native women with early-stage breast cancer are more likely to be treated with a mastectomy and less likely to be treated with a lumpectomy compared with White women.
Jennifer Erdrich of the University of Arizona and her colleagues analyzed the records of 3,292 American Indian and Alaska Native women and 165,225 White women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2010 and 2015. Forty-one percent of the indigenous women had mastectomies versus 34 percent of the White women, and 59 percent of the indigenous women were treated with lumpectomies versus 66 percent of the White women.
Breast-conserving therapy consistently results in better patient outcomes, including fewer complications, decreased pain and better recovery and quality of life.
Access to reliable transportation, childcare and time off work can present challenges for rural residents who need to drive longer distances to receive care. Plus, in places with intense winters like the Northern Plains and Alaska, research has shown that people put off medical care during colder months.
Those barriers could discourage patients from choosing breast-conservation therapy when they are told the accompanying radiation requires more return visits for care. However, Erdrich (a Turtle Mountain Chippewa) said there are ways to make lumpectomy more available.
- See “UArizona Health Sciences IDs breast cancer treatment disparities among Indigenous women” on the Cherokee Phoenix website (November 12, 2021)
- See full text of scientific paper “Disparities in Breast-Conserving Therapy for Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native Women Compared with Non-
Hispanic White Women” by Jennifer Erdrich et al.