(HealthDay News) — Geographic region is significantly associated with the risk of treatment delays in patients with breast cancer, according to a study published in Cancer.

Researchers conducted a retrospective study involving patients with breast cancer in North Carolina between 2004 and 2017. A total of 32,626 adults with stage I to III breast cancer who received surgery or chemotherapy as their first treatment were included. Race was dichotomized as Black vs non-Black, and 19.0% of patients were Black.

Treatment delay was defined as more than 60 days from diagnosis to first treatment. The likelihood of experiencing a treatment delay more than 60 days was higher for Black patients than for non-Black patients — 15.0% and 8.0%, respectively.

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In the highest-risk region, the age-adjusted relative risk for delay was about twice that in the lowest-risk region for Black patients and non-Black patients (relative risks, 2.1 and 1.9, respectively).

Inter-region differences were slightly attenuated after adjustment for clinical and sociodemographic features. There was variation observed by region in the magnitude of the racial gap in treatment delay, from 0.0% to 9.4%.

“Future studies should consider both high-risk geographic regions and high-risk patient groups for intervention to prevent delays,” the study authors wrote.

Two study authors received funding paid to their institution by the Pfizer Medical Foundation.

Abstract/Full Text