Numerous studies have shown African American women have higher death rates from breast cancer. Now a new study finds these women and other racial and ethnic minorities are more likely than Caucasian women to suffer from the pain that often comes with advanced breast cancer.
An estimated 60 to 90 percent of women with breast cancer that has spread suffer from chronic or recurrent pain. Researchers say women that are not white may be at highest risk for under-treatment of pain, including poor access to medication.
Researchers studied 1,124 women with metastatic breast cancer and bone metastases who received standard treatment in an international chemotherapy clinical trial conducted from October 1998 to January 2001. The study comprised women in 19 countries; the majority of women that aren't white were from the U.S.
A test called the Brief Pain Inventory, which is based on a scale of zero to ten in pain severity, was administered repeatedly over a year to determine pain levels.
The authors found that non-white women reached a pain level of seven or higher on the Brief Pain Inventory scale significantly earlier during a year of follow-up, compared with white women. A score of 7 or higher on the scale commonly designates severe pain.