Unfair Arithmetic

Kidney cancer more common and lethal in black patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Some ethnic groups are more prone to certain types of cancer. For example, Asian women who have never smoked have high risks of developing lung cancer. Another ethnic trend has been revealed.

African-American men are more likely to develop and die from kidney cancer than white men, according to a new study. These findings suggest that more energy needs to be focused on trying to overcome these odds.

"Inform your MD of any cancer history."

The incidence of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common form of kidney cancer, has been increasing among black Americans since the mid 1990s.

Today, there are more blacks among the nearly 65,000 cases of kidney cancer diagnosed every year than whites. And men are nearly twice as likely to develop this cancer than women.

Wong-Ho Chow, PhD, currently of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute looked at the data on nearly 40,000 renal cell carcinoma patients.

They found that the 5-year survival rate for black patients was 68 percent compared to 72.6 percent for white patients. This pattern was true for all groups of patients regardless of age, gender, tumor type, size or stage or the type of surgical treatment given.

One of the study’s surprising findings was that most black patients are diagnosed at earlier stages - when the tumor is smaller. These patients also tend to have a less aggressive form of the disease than do white patients.

Researchers note that these facts should suggest a better outcome for black patients.

The authors wrote, “Our findings suggest that compared to their white counterparts, black Americans not only have an increased risk of developing RCC, but they also have a poorer prognosis after a tumor is diagnosed.”

Dr. Chow said in a press release, “We cannot rule out the possibility that other factors not measured in our study—such as obesity, high blood pressure, access to care, and genetic susceptibility—may be contributing to the persistent disparities."

This research, which was funded by Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, was published in the CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 15, 2012
Last Updated:
November 20, 2012