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Minorities Less Likely to Get Recommended Lung Cancer Imaging

TUESDAY, March 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Black and Hispanic Americans are less likely than whites to receive recommended lung cancer imaging, a new study claims.

PET-CT imaging is recommended because it provides doctors the best possible picture of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which helps determine the best treatment for the patient.

The University of Colorado Cancer Center study examined PET-CT use and outcomes for nearly 29,000 white patients, just over 3,100 black patients and about 1,900 Hispanic patients who were diagnosed with NSCLC between 2007 and 2015.

Black patients were only half as likely as whites to receive this imaging, and Hispanics were about 70% as likely as whites to receive it, the study found.

"We started from the perspective of outcomes: we know that black and Hispanic lung cancer patients tend to not do as well as non-Hispanic whites," said Dr. Rustain Morgan, an assistant professor of radiology. "We wondered if there could also be differences in how these groups are imaged at diagnosis."

The study "reaffirmed that patients who are imaged with PET-CT at diagnosis have better cancer-specific survival," Morgan said in a university news release.

Also, "it showed there is a significant difference in who gets the recommended PET-CT at diagnosis," Morgan added. "And third, it leads to more questions, like what is driving this difference and are these disparities in adherence to imaging guidelines present in other cancers."

More advanced cancers typically require more aggressive treatment. While some types of imaging, including chest X-ray, may be able to detect a primary lung tumor, they may miss smaller areas of cancer. This can lead to undertreatment, the study authors noted.

If blacks and Hispanics aren't getting the best imaging, it could help explain why those with lung cancer have worse outcomes than white patients, Morgan said.

"Now that we know more about this problem, we must find ways to address it," he concluded.

The study was published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on lung cancer.

SOURCE: University of Colorado, news release, March 11, 2020

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