Lung Cancer Survival and Ethnicity

Non small cell lung cancer patients of Hispanic descent live longer

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

(RxWiki News) What could possibly make death rates for foreign- and U.S.-born Hispanics with lung cancer patients different? Well, it’s not genetic differences, so what could it be?

A recent study compared foreign- and U.S.-born Hispanic and non-Hispanic white non-small cell lung cancer patient outcomes. Foreign-born Hispanic patients have the best long-term chances.

"Reach out for social support during cancer treatment."

Manali Patel, MD, a post-doctoral fellow in oncology at Stanford University in California, led the investigation.

Dr. Patel said, “Social and neighborhood factors, in addition to being foreign-born, appear to be positive contributing factors to incidence and survival that need further study.”

Based on data collected from the California Cancer Registry (CCR) from 1988-2008, Hispanic/Latino non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients tend to live longer than non-Hispanic white patients.

“The results of this study confirm the ‘Hispanic paradox’ of improved survival rates for Hispanic/Latino NSCLC patients compared to non-Hispanic white patients, despite lower socioeconomic status,” according to Dr. Patel.

The ‘Hispanic paradox’ is present in many different forms of cancer and other diseases including diabetes and heart disease. For some unknown reason, people of Hispanic descent tend live longer with cancer.

Yet those superior outcomes are not linked to better care, nutrition or socioeconomic status.

This study shows that not only do Hispanics have better NSCLC outcomes than non-Hispanic whites, but also foreign-born Hispanics tend to do better than U.S.-born Hispanics.

After looking at 4,062 Hispanic NSCLC patient records, researchers found a 7-16 percent reduced risk of death in foreign-born Hispanics compared to U.S.-born Hispanics depending upon individual and clinical factors.

Researchers concluded that social-support factors did not fully explain the difference.

Further research into the ‘Hispanic paradox’ will be necessary to pinpoint the exact reasons for reduced mortality rates.

The results of this study were presented at the 2012 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology. All research is considered preliminary before it’s published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Funding was partially provided by a grant to Dr. Wakelee from ECOG. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 11, 2012
Last Updated:
September 13, 2012