Study demonstrates weak link to race disparity in lung cancer

Race does not affect overall survival among lung cancer patients, according to data presented at the 2010 AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

In a study led by Rajesh Sehgal, MD, 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, researchers examined 130,517 patients diagnosed with lung cancer between 2003 and 2008.

When patients were grouped according to race, researchers found that African-American race was not an independent prognostic factor for poor survival.

Researchers also found 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. While these factors may have contributed to less favorable median overall survival compared with Caucasian patients and patients of other races, the researchers noted that race alone did not affect overall survival. However, race was an independent risk factor for patients of other races compared with Caucasian patients.

“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 Dr. Sehgal. “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.”

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