Black Children Fare Worse With Cancer

Neuroblastoma more aggressive and fatal in black children

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

(RxWiki News) Huge progress has been made in treating and curing childhood cancers over the past 50 years. Scientists are now discovering, though, that some children tend to have more aggressive disease and poorer outcomes.

Children of African heritage tend to have a high-risk form of neuroblastoma, which appears in the nerves. The course of the disease is also more serious, even fatal, according to preliminary study findings.

"Scientists are identifying why black children have worse cases of neuroblastoma."

Navin R. Pinto, M.D., instructor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago, has found that there are common genetic factors involved with aggressive and more fatal neuroblastoma. These variants, he says are more common in children of African ancestry, but may be present in patients of all ethnicities.

In previous research of 3,539 children with neuroblastoma, Dr. Pinto and his team had found that black children had genetic differences linked to high-risk disease with increased risks of relapses and death.

For this study, researchers evaluated 3,508 racially mixed children with neuroblastoma. They used germline genotypes of three races - African, Asian and Caucasian - and created an ancestral map.

Children with higher African ancestry were more likely to have the worst cases and die from the disease following chemotherapy.

With this information, Dr. Pinto says, that researchers can work to identify the specific genetic errors involved in poor outcomes.

This study was presented at the Fourth American Association for Cancer Research Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

Research that has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal is considered preliminary.

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Review Date: 
September 21, 2011
Last Updated:
September 22, 2011