Blacks More Likely to Forego Lung Cancer Surgery

They may be misinformed about risks linked to these procedures, experts say

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TUESDAY, Nov. 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Race may be a factor in choosing surgery when patients are confronted with a diagnosis of lung cancer, researchers report.

Too often, black patients may be misinformed about the effects of lung cancer surgery, according to a study from the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

"Surgery for early stage non-small cell lung cancer is standard treatment and is likely curative. Yet, fewer blacks than whites undergo surgery for the disease, leading to a higher mortality rate among blacks with lung cancer," Dr. Bruno DiGiovine of the Henry Ford Health System said in a prepared statement.

"Identifying and addressing the underlying reason for this discrepancy in surgical rates may, ultimately, lead to greater rates of surgical acceptance and decreased mortality rates among blacks with lung cancer," he said.

DiGiovine's team's study appears in the November issue of the journal Chest

The study of 97 blacks and 184 whites found that 74 percent of whites chose surgery for stages I and II non-small cell lung cancer, compared with just 58 percent of blacks. Within the two groups, 79 percent of whites were offered the surgery, compared with 70 percent of blacks. Of the patients offered surgical resection, 18 percent of blacks declined the surgery, compared with 5 percent of whites.

"Knowing blacks decline surgery at a higher rate than whites is the first step to decreasing lung cancer mortality among this population. We must now identify why so many blacks decline lung cancer surgery," DiGiovine said.

"Prior research has shown that blacks may be misinformed about the risks of surgery, as they are more likely than whites to believe that lung cancer will spread if exposed to air during operation. This misinformation may contribute to the low rate of lung cancer surgery acceptance among blacks, however, more research is needed in this area," he concluded.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about lung cancer treatments.

SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, Nov. 7, 2005

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