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Racial Disparities in Colon Cancer Mortality Unexplained

Comorbidities and body mass index do not explain higher risk of death in African-Americans

TUESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Differences in comorbidities and weight do not explain the higher risk of death in African-Americans with colon cancer compared with Caucasians, according to a study published online Nov. 24 in Cancer.

Robert B. Hines, of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and colleagues analyzed data from 496 patients (39.2 percent African-American and 60.8 percent Caucasian) who had undergone surgery for a first primary colon cancer.

The researchers found a higher risk of death in African-Americans (hazard ratio, 1.34), in patients due to all-cause mortality (hazard ratio, 1.63), and in underweight patients (hazard ratio, 1.54). Overweight and obese patients had a lower risk of death (hazard ratio, 0.77). Comorbidities primarily affected those with early-stage tumors, while body mass index primarily affected those with advanced tumors. Adjusting for comorbidity and body mass index had little effect on the risk of death in African-Americans.

"Although comorbidity and body mass index had an impact on the survival of patients with colon cancer after surgery, these variables were not contributing factors to the decreased survival observed among African-Americans," the authors conclude.

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