Cancer Treatment Inequalities

Lung cancer treatment varies among different races

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Does race enter the equation on who is treated and who isn't treated for cancer? According to a recent study, there are racial differences in how lung cancer is treated.

Early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is treated with surgery. An individual’s race may influence how lung cancer is managed, according to a new study.

African Americans were less likely than Caucasians to be treated with surgery for NSCLC, while Hispanics were more likely to have surgery for early tumors.

"Understand your disease so you can get the right answers."

Jayanth Adusumalli, MBBS, of the Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, directed the research effort that looked into how more than a million patients with NSCLC were treated.

"In our study of more than 1,200,000 patients diagnosed with NSCLC in US hospitals between the years 2000 and 2010, we found statistically significant racial disparities in the surgical management of these patients."

The researchers relied on information from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) where they identified 1,200,955 NSCLC patients, 975,229 of whom had been treated after their initial diagnosis.

Here’s what the researchers uncovered:

  • 82 percent of Caucasians received treatment compared to 79 percent of African Americans and 76 percent of Hispanics.
  • Surgery for stage l NSCLC was performed for 78 percent of Caucasians, 73 percent of African Americans and 82 percent for Hispanics.
  • For stage ll NSCLC, those figures were 64, 56 and 67 percent for Caucasians, African Americans and Hispanics, respectively.

“This study highlights that there is a difference in receipt of equitable care delivery for African American patients with early stage lung cancer compared with other racial/ethnic groups,” Manali Patel, MD, MPH, an instructor of oncology/hematology and researcher at Stanford University.

“This is an incredibly important study that raises many more questions, namely, how to intervene to provide equitable care delivery for all patients regardless of race/ethnicity,” said Dr. Patel, who is with the Clinical Excellence Research Center at the Stanford Cancer Institute.

This study was presented at the American Thoracic Society Annual Conference on May 20. 

All research is considered preliminary before it's published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 21, 2013
Last Updated:
August 5, 2013