Lung Cancer Treatment is Race Oriented

Lung Cancer Treatment is Race OrientedAccording to a new study Black patients suffering from lung cancer are less likely than white patients to receive recommended chemotherapy and surgery. In 2002 disparities in lung cancer treatments were similar to what was seen in the early 1990's despite efforts to decrease the difference in treatment.

In the study Dale Hardy, of the University of Texas School of Public Health and colleagues studied data from 83,101 patients 65 years or older who were diagnosed with lung cancer between 1991 and 2002. They found that black patients were 37 % less likely than white patients to receive recommended surgery and 42 % less likely to receive the recommended chemotherapy.

Black patients in the later stages of the disease were 57 % less likely to receive the recommended chemotherapy as compared to the whites. Similar disparities were seen in the cases of older patients, women and those from a lower income background.

The researchers said there could be several reasons for the disparities in care the first one being blacks being less likely to get an accurate diagnosis and get recommendations for surgery, and also the fact that blacks are also more likely to decline surgery.

Also many blacks distrust the health-care system and tend to rely on prayer and alternative healing and believe that "when your time is up, it is up," the researchers said. "In addition, blacks are most often seen at county hospitals, which often provide lower quality medical therapy," Hardy's group noted.

"In conclusion, there were substantial disparities in receiving recommended treatments between blacks and whites, and these disparities have been relatively stable during the past 12 years," the study authors said. "To reduce disparities in receipt of treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, efforts should focus on providing appropriate quality treatment and educating blacks on the value of having these treatments."

Katherine S. Virgo, director of health services research the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the study said, "This study shows what most of the previous research has shown -- that disparities in treatment patterns [still exist] between blacks and whites." Virgo added that disparities in treatment between blacks and whites are common for a number of diseases and conditions. "This is not something that is specific to non-small cell lung cancer," she said.

The findings were published online April 13 in the journal Cancer.