Economic Factors at Play in Cancer Survival Among Races

Racial disparities in survival disappear after adjusting for socioeconomic, other factors

TUESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- After controlling for factors including socioeconomic status, survival differences between African-American and Caucasian patients with colorectal cancer ceased to become statistically significant, according to research published online July 13 in Cancer.

Ben Yan, M.D., of the Henry Ford Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, and colleagues analyzed data from 9,078 subjects diagnosed with primary colorectal cancer from 1988 to 1992 in the Detroit metro area. The researchers based socioeconomic status on occupation, education, and poverty status at the census tract level.

In unadjusted analysis, the researchers found African-Americans to have a higher risk of death compared to Caucasians (hazard ratio, 1.13). However, when adjusted for socioeconomic status, age, sex, tumor grade, surgical treatment, and other factors, race wasn't associated with survival. African-Americans were more likely to present with stage IV disease at diagnosis and to live in poor census tracts.

"Lower socioeconomic status is associated with decreased access to adequate health care, as lack of insurance severely limits ones ability to obtain adequate screening opportunities and appropriate treatment," the authors conclude. "More aggressive screening and equal treatment opportunities would do much to remedy the survival disparity seen among African-American and White American individuals with colorectal cancer."

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