After analyzing nearly 30 years worth of data on breast cancer patients , researchers say they find that women with more advanced stages of disease at diagnosis and those who are diagnosed at a younger age, even with less advanced stages, are the most likely to die from the disease. Black women are also more likely to die of breast cancer than white women, as are those whose tumors are negative for the estrogen receptor.
The study, was the first of its kind to evaluate which women diagnosed with breast cancer actually die of the disease as opposed to dying of other causes. More than 400,000 women who developed breast cancer between 1973 and 2000 were included in the study. Researchers looked at the stage of their disease at diagnosis, their age at diagnosis, and their race.
Although it was observed that death from other causes became increasingly important with advancing age, death from breast cancer remained substantial within the first five years after diagnosis, particularly with advancing stage. This was true even among women who were 70 years old or older at the time of diagnosis.