Dr. Benjamin Smith, assistant professor at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and colleagues examined the rate of breast cancer death in the general population and the risk of breast cancer death in newly diagnosed patients and compared this change over time.
The researchers used data from the National Vital Statistics Report and the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registry.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found breast cancer death rates were stable throughout the 1980s for women ages 20-64, but increased for women ages 65 and older -- while from 1990 to 2007, the largest decrease in death rates was seen in women ages 20-49 at 2.4 percent. The smallest decrease in breast cancer death rates was seen in women ages 75 and older, at 1.1 percent per year, the study said.
In 1980-1984, women ages 75 and older had the lowest risk of 10-year breast cancer death at 24 percent, but in contrast, those age 65 and younger had 10-year breast cancer risk that ranged from 29 percent to 31 percent.
In addition, black women have an absolute death rate in 2006 that was 38 percent higher than whites, Smith said.
"We found that the oldest women, regardless of their race, and blacks, regardless of their age, are not benefiting as much from improvements in breast cancer treatments," Smith said in a statement.