Race not root of disparity in lung cancer between whites and blacks

Oct 02, 2010

Race itself was not a prognostic factor of overall survival among black patients with lung cancer, according to data from a retrospective study presented at the Third AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

"In simple terms, if 100 patients who are Caucasian and 100 patients who are African-American have the same age, stage of cancer, type of lung cancer and are treated the same way, there should not be differences in their survival just because they are of different races," said Rajesh Sehgal, M.D., a medical oncologist at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center and an assistant professor of medicine at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in Huntington, W.Va.

"African-American patients did have lesser median overall survival, but after compensating for all other factors that affect prognosis, such as age, stage and type of treatment, African-American race was not an independent prognostic factor for poor survival," added Sehgal.

Results of this study also indicated that those patients of other races — including Asian and — had a better disease prognosis when compared with African-American and Caucasian patients, indicating that there may be biological differences in the tumors in these races.

Using data from the Cancer Information Resource File, the researchers examined 130,517 patients diagnosed with lung cancer between 2003 and 2008. Patients were grouped according to race: white (91.4 percent), African-American (6.5 percent) and other (2.1 percent), defined as any non-Caucasian and non-African-American patient.

Median overall survival was 10.3 months for Caucasian patients, 9.1 months for African-American patients and 11.8 months for patients of other races. Patients undergoing chemotherapy had about a 43 percent higher chance of survival and those undergoing surgery had about a 60 percent higher chance of survival.

Data indicated that fewer African-American patients underwent surgery to treat their disease and a greater percentage of these patients presented with metastatic lung cancer compared with Caucasian patients (44 percent vs. 41 percent). These factors may have contributed to less favorable median overall survival compared with Caucasian patients and patients of other races, according to the researchers.

Despite these differences, race alone did not affect overall survival.

However, race was an independent risk factor for patients of other races compared with Caucasian patients.

"If possible, we would like to look into the tumor biology of 'other' races to see when differences exist in their tumors as compared to Caucasian and African-American patients and whether these differences might account for their better prognosis," Sehgal said.

Other factors identified by researchers as having a negative effect on overall survival were age older than 70 years and male sex. Sixty-seven percent of all African-American patients were younger than 70 years of age when they presented with the disease compared with only 54 percent of Caucasian patients.

Patients undergoing radiation therapy and patients with bronchoalveolar lung cancer histology — a type of non-small cell — also had improved prognosis.

Sehgal said that some study limitations did exist, including a lack of data on patients' smoking status, insurance status and comorbidities, all of which could affect overall survival.

Explore further: Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Disparities in head and neck cancer patients

Oct 06, 2008

A new analysis finds considerable disparities in survival related to race and socio-economic status among patients with head and neck cancer. Published in the November 15, 2008 issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the ...

Race and insurance status associated with death from trauma

Oct 20, 2008

African American and Hispanic patients are more likely to die following trauma than white patients, and uninsured patients have a higher death risk when compared with those who have health insurance, according to a report ...

Breast cancer returns more often in black women

Oct 29, 2007

Contrary to previous studies, African-American women with early-stage breast cancer who have surgery to remove the cancer (lumpectomy) followed by radiation therapy have a higher chance of their cancer coming back in the ...

Recommended for you

Pepper and halt: Spicy chemical may inhibit gut tumors

1 hour ago

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that dietary capsaicin – the active ingredient in chili peppers – produces chronic activation of a receptor on cells lining ...

Expressive writing may help breast cancer survivors

3 hours ago

Writing down fears, emotions and the benefits of a cancer diagnosis may improve health outcomes for Asian-American breast cancer survivors, according to a study conducted by a researcher at the University of Houston (UH).

Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy

9 hours ago

Researchers and doctors at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) have co-developed the first molecular test ...

Brain tumour cells found circulating in blood

10 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—German scientists have discovered rogue brain tumour cells in patient blood samples, challenging the idea that this type of cancer doesn't generally spread beyond the brain.

International charge on new radiation treatment for cancer

10 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Imagine a targeted radiation therapy for cancer that could pinpoint and blast away tumors more effectively than traditional methods, with fewer side effects and less damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

User comments : 0