Background: Survival disparities between African American women (AAW) and European American women (EAW) with invasive breast cancer may be attributable, in part, to access to or quality of medical care. In this study, we evaluated surgical disparities between AAW and EAW treated within an equal-access military treatment facility (MTF). Methods: All AAW (N = 271) and EAW (N = 628) with Stage I–III breast cancer who had their initial diagnosis performed at Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center were identified. Differences in surgical interval (time between diagnosis and definitive breast surgery) and surgical procedures were evaluated using χ2 and Student t-tests while survival was analyzed using Kaplan–Meier survival estimates and log-rank tests. A P value < 0.05 was used to define significance. Results: Surgical intervals did not differ significantly between populations with an average of 36.3 days in AAW and 33.9 days in EAW. Frequency of the percentage of women undergoing reexcision, mastectomy, and prophylactic removal of the contralateral breast did not differ significantly between populations. Likewise, frequency of sentinel lymph node biopsy and 5-year survival were not significantly different between AAW compared to EAW. Discussion: Surgical intervals and procedures were similar between AAW and EAW treated within an equal-access MTF. These data demonstrate that the availability of quality surgical care to all patients with stage I–III breast cancer may eliminate survival disparities between AAW and EAW, emphasizing the importance of equalizing access to breast care.
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