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Black patients' cancer 14% more likely to be metastatic at diagnosis, study says

One reason black patients may be diagnosed with metastatic cancer more often than others could be lack of access to health care, researchers say in a new study. Photo by <a href="https://pixabay.com/photos/doctor-bless-you-stethoscope-3264979/">jossuetrejo_oficial</a>/Pixabay
One reason black patients may be diagnosed with metastatic cancer more often than others could be lack of access to health care, researchers say in a new study. Photo by jossuetrejo_oficial/Pixabay

April 8 (UPI) -- Black people with cancer are more likely to have metastatic disease when they are diagnosed, a new analysis published Wednesday by JAMA Network Open has suggested.

The researchers found that, compared with Asian patients, black cancer sufferers are at 14 percent greater risk for having their disease metastasize prior to diagnosis. This particularly true in cancers of the esophagus and colon, they noted.

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The estimates are based on an analysis of data on nearly 1 million Americans with cancer, including those with the nine most common forms of the disease.

"Our findings conform with studies demonstrating that Asian patients with gastric cancer have better survival than patients from other racial/ethnic groups," the authors wrote.

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In general, black Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group for most cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.

For the new study, researchers reviewed data on 950,377 Asian, black, white, and Hispanic cancer patients in the United States gathered as part of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database. The patients had been diagnosed with prostate, ovarian, breast, stomach, pancreatic, lung, liver, esophageal or colorectal cancers between 2004 and 2010.

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In addition to being at increased risk for severe disease, the authors found that black and Hispanic patients were up to 40 percent less likely to receive definitive treatment than Asian patients, while white, black and Hispanic patients were more likely to have poorer cancer-specific survival and overall survival than Asian patients.

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Compared with Asian patients, the authors found white patients had poorer survival rates for prostate cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and colorectal cancer. Black patients had worse survival rates in all nine cancers studied. Hispanic patients, meanwhile, had poorer survival rates for prostate cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer, liver and colorectal cancer.

One reason for these racial disparities may be "shortages of physicians and medical centers in communities of color," the authors suggested.

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