Racial Differences Found in Cancer Care

NEW YORK (MedscapeWire) Mar 07 — Skin color may have a larger effect on quality of cancer care than tumor size, according to a study published in the March 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The report reviewed 87 previous studies on cancer treatment and survival and found glaring differences in the type and quality of cancer treatments given to racial and ethnic minorities at every stage of disease.
Prior research has shown that when compared with whites, minorities have a higher incidence of several types of cancer, and they are also more likely to die from these cancers. For example, African Americans have a higher incidence of prostate, lung, colon, oral, cervical, and stomach cancers, and they are 33% more likely to die from cancer than whites. Hispanics have higher rates of cervical cancer, and Asians have twice the rate of stomach cancer, compared with whites.

National Cancer Institute researchers conducted the review in an attempt to figure out what's behind these differences in care once the cancer is diagnosed. The review found that white patients often received more aggressive therapy than minorities for lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers. But whites were more likely to receive less aggressive therapy, such as breast-conserving therapy, when the benefits of the therapy were clearly established.

African Americans were also less likely to receive treatment for their lung cancers and, when treated, not to receive surgery. Minorities also received appropriate surgery for colorectal cancers less frequently than whites….

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