African Americans have a much worse chance of surviving colorectal cancer that whites. However, there appear to be reasons beyond race for these differences
After looking at factors including poverty, stage at diagnosis, and treatment received, researchers in Detroit found the differences between races disappeared.
The research team from the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan studied over 9,000 colorectal cancer patients in the Detroit metropolitan area and analyzed socioeconomic, demographic, and treatment information about them.
Socioeconomic information (SES) was determined by census tract looking at poverty, occupations, and educational levels within the tract. Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) cancer statistics were used for sex, age, treatment information, and survival.
African Americans were more likely to be diagnosed at advanced stage IV and live in a poor census tract. They had poorer survival than whites.
However, once socioeconomic, clinical, and demographic information was taken into account, survival differences no longer existed.
Writing in Cancer, Ben Yan, M.D., concluded,
Racial disparities in colorectal cancer survival dissipate after adjusting for other demographic and clinical factors. These results can potentially affect medical guidelines regarding screening and treatment, and possibly influence public health policies that can have a positive impact on equalizing racial differences in access to care.
SOURCE: Yan et al., Racial differences in colorectal cancer survival in the Detroit Metropolitan area, Cancer, Early View, July 13, 2008.