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Racial and ethnic minorities may receive less appropriate cancer treatment

A review of past cancer treatment and survival studies suggests that race and ethnicity may be associated with the receipt of cancer treatment. In some cases, treatment differences were associated with more recurrences, shorter disease-free survival, and higher mortality rates, report Vickie L. Shavers, Ph.D., and Martin L. Brown, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute, in the March 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

A disproportionate number of cancers in the United States occur among racial and ethnic minorities. When compared with whites, Hispanics have a higher incidence of cervical cancer, Asians have twice the rate of stomach cancer, and African Americans have a higher incidence of prostate, lung, colon, oral, cervical, and stomach cancer.

Increased access to cancer screening services and earlier detection may improve cancer outcomes among minorities; however, differences in cancer survival and mortality between minorities and whites still exist. "This observation suggests that factors other than the stage at diagnosis contribute to the disparate cancer mortality observed among racial/ethnic minority populations," the authors say.

Past studies have suggested that a person's race or ethnicity influences their access and use of noncancer medical services. To determine the role race and ethnicity plays in the receipt of cancer treatments, Shavers and Brown re-examined published data from 87 studies of cancer treatment and survival, focusing on racial and ethnic variations in the treatment of patients with breast, cervical, colorectal, prostate, or lung cancer.

The authors found consistent racial and ethnic differences in the receipt of primary therapy, conservative therapy, and adjuvant therapy. For instance, white patients often received more aggressive therapy than other racial and ethnic groups for lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers. In contrast, whites received less aggressive therapy-such as
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Contact: Linda Wang
jncinews@oup-usa.org
301-841-1285
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
5-Mar-2002


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