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Place of Service May Affect Racial Disparities in Cancer Deaths

Risk of death similar for African-Americans, Caucasians if they go to designated cancer center

TUESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Although elderly African-American cancer patients have a higher risk of death than elderly Caucasian cancer patients, the differences disappear among those who are treated at a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center, according to a retrospective analysis published online March 22 in Cancer.

Tracy Onega, Ph.D., from Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues retrospectively compared mortality among 201,305 elderly African-American (8.9 percent of patients) and Caucasian patients with lung, breast, colorectal or prostate cancer based on whether they go to an NCI-designated comprehensive or clinical cancer center.

The researchers found that elderly African-Americans had higher all-cause and cancer-specific mortality at one year (odds ratio, 1.13) and three years (odds ratio, 1.23) after diagnosis. However, African-Americans at an NCI-designated cancer center had a lower risk of death at one year (odds ratio, 0.63) and three years (odds ratio, 0.71). African-Americans who went to NCI-designated cancer centers had a similar risk of all-cause and cancer-specific mortality as Caucasians.

"African-American Medicare beneficiaries with lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers had higher mortality compared with their Caucasian counterparts; however, there were no significant differences in mortality by race among those who attended NCI cancer centers," Onega and colleagues conclude.

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