A  A  A   Print
Blacks Less Likely to See Cancer Specialists, Study Finds

Blacks Less Likely to See Cancer Specialists, Study Finds

FRIDAY, Nov. 22, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Black Americans with advanced colorectal cancer are less likely than white patients to see cancer specialists or to receive cancer treatments, according to a new study.

This may be a major reason blacks with advanced colorectal cancer -- cancer of the colon and rectum -- have a 15 percent higher death rate than whites, according to researchers from the University of California, San Diego.

The risk of death, however, was the same for patients who received the same cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgery, regardless of their race, the researchers said.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 11,000 patients over age 66 who had metastatic colorectal cancer, which is cancer that has spread to other areas of the body. Blacks were 10 percent less likely than whites to have primary tumor surgery, 17 percent less likely to receive chemotherapy and 30 percent less likely to receive radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy was associated with a 66 percent lower risk of death, according to the study, which was published online Nov. 14 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Among patients who received chemotherapy, whites were more likely than blacks to receive more than one chemotherapy agent. Blacks typically began chemotherapy four days later after diagnosis than whites.

The researchers also found that almost half of the survival disparity between black and white patients was because of treatment differences. After accounting for these differences, the racial disparity in survival disappeared.

Possible reasons for the racial disparities noted in this study include conscious or unconscious biases from health care providers, patient mistrust and health literacy, the researchers said. Breakdowns in communication between patients and their doctors, barriers to health care access and differences in how the disease affects people of different races could also explain the disparities, they said.

"Further studies may answer the important question of why there are racial disparities in consults with cancer specialists and treatment among this population," Dr. James Murphy, chief of the radiation oncology gastrointestinal tumor service at the University of California, San Diego, Moores Cancer Center, said in a university news release. "The answers may lead to areas we can improve upon to close these gaps."

"I suspect that this pattern of disparity could be present in other underserved minority groups as well," he said.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about colorectal cancer.

SOURCE: University of California, San Diego, news release, Nov. 19, 2013

Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.