(HealthDay News) – Older women with newly diagnosed non-metastatic breast cancer frequently have functional disability, with African-American (AA) women disproportionately affected, according to a study published online Sept. 23 in Cancer.

In an effort to assess racial differences in functional disability, Cynthia Owusu, MD, of the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 190 women (32% AA) with newly diagnosed Stage I–III breast cancer (mean age at diagnosis, 75 years).

The researchers found that 39% of participants exhibited functional disability. Participants with functional disability were significantly more likely to be AA than non-Hispanic white, after adjustment for age (odds ratio, 4.19). A higher prevalence of lower income and education among AAs explained 59% of the racial difference in functional disability. After accounting for socioeconomic factors, the higher prevalence of chronic medical conditions and obesity among AAs explained 40% of the black-white difference in functional disability.

“Given that functional disability has enormous public health consequences, including increased health care use and costs, and increased mortality, and given the importance of functional status in cancer treatment decision-making and treatment tolerance, interventions to improve functional status, particularly among older AAs with newly diagnosed stage I through III breast cancer, are warranted,” the authors write.

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