Recently, unprecedented drops in breast cancer incidence have been reported for populations of mostly White European descent. Incidence patterns in non-White racial/ethnic groups are less described. Therefore, we examined population-based breast cancer incidence trends separately for US Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, African-American, and non-Hispanic White women by etiologically relevant tumor subtype characteristics, including hormone receptor status, histology, size, and in situ behavior.
We obtained breast cancer data from 13 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cancer registries to calculate age-adjusted incidence rates and trends, stratified by race/ethnicity and tumor subtype for the period 1992–2004. Detailed analyses were limited to women 50 years old or older. Joinpoint regression was used to assess incidence trends by annual quarter of diagnosis.
Between 2001 and 2004, incidence rates of invasive breast cancer in women 50 years old or older declined appreciably among Asians/Pacific Islanders (-8.5%) and Hispanics (-2.9%) and were stable in African-Americans (+0.5%), reductions substantially lower than those observed among non-Hispanic Whites (-14.3%). In Asian/Pacific Islander women, perceptible but statistically nonsignificant decreases were observed for hormone receptor-positive, lobular, and small tumors only. Rates of hormone receptor-negative tumors increased among African-Americans (26.1%) and Hispanics (26.9%) during 2001–2004. Incidence trends in most groups, except African-American women, peaked between 1999 and mid-2002. Rates of in situ cancer remained stable in all groups.
Recently reported reductions in breast cancer incidence varied considerably by race/ethnicity. These patterns are consistent with documented racial/ethnic differences in the prevalence and discontinuation of hormone therapy (HT) after July 2002 but do not correspond as well to patterns of mammography use in these groups. The data presented in this analysis provide further evidence that population-level HT use is a major influence on population-level rates of particular breast cancer subtypes, especially receptor-positive tumors.