American women of Japanese descent treated for early-stage breast cancer are less likely to suffer a recurrence of the disease than women of other ancestries.
That finding is published in the May issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology.
The study, done at the Kuakini Medical Center in Honolulu from 1990 to 2001, involved 896 early-stage breast cancer patients treated with lumpectomy and radiation therapy. Seventy-four percent of the study participants were of Japanese heritage. Six years after treatment, only six of the women (.67 percent) had experienced a local recurrence of their breast cancer.
The researchers called this remarkable, considering that the local breast cancer recurrence rates for women of all ethnicities around the world range from 2 percent to 16 percent.
“This low rate of relapse is extraordinary, and unmatched by the published data results generally cited in the literature,” study author Dr. Mark Kanemori, a radiation oncologist at Kuakini Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.
“This study suggests that there are biological factors that may be related to ethnicity. Hopefully, this will spark interest in the academic community to further research in this area. Identifying predictive factors of cancer biology may lead to improvements in our ability to properly select appropriate cancer treatments for our patients,” Kanemori said.