Jaunary 2016 Newsline published ahead of print.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatment is less likely to be effective in African American women with breast cancer than in women in other racial minority groups, suggests research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Brigid K. Killelea, MD, of the Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues used the National Cancer Database to identify women with stage 1 through stage 3 breast cancer who were diagnosed in 2010 or 2011. More than 278,000 patients with known race and identity were analyzed; 46% of those patients received chemotherapy. Within the 46%, chemotherapy timing was known for 121,446 patients, revealing that 27,300 women (23%) received neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

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“Neoadjuvant chemotherapy in particular was given more frequently to black, Hispanic, and Asian women than to white women,” said Dr Killelea.

Of the 17,970 patients with a known outcome, 33% had a pathologic complete response (pCR). African American women in particular had a lower rate of pCR for estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor-negative tumors, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive tumors (43% versus 54%) and triple-negative tumors (37% versus 43%). This difference persisted when adjusted for age, clinical T stage, clinical N stage, histology, and grade comorbidity index, among other factors.


  1. Killelela BK, Yang VQ, Wang S-Y, et al. Racial differences in the use and outcome of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer: Results from the national cancer database. J Clin Oncol. Paper presented at: 2015 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; December 8–12, 2015; San Antonio, TX.