Despite receiving equal medical care, African Americans with blood cancer do not live as long as Caucasians, according to a new study.
An analysis, published in the American Cancer Society's online journal Cancer, states among patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, specifically African Americans with blood cancer – who commonly present with an advanced stage of the disease – tend to have shorter survival rates than their Caucasian counterparts, even though they receive the exact same treatment.
The results suggest that some biological factors may account for the racial disparities in cancer survival. Minorities, like African Americans, tend to have a worse prognosis than Caucasians for reasons that are elusive to researchers, according to Science Codex.
It has been surmised that a lower socioeconomic status with limited access to high-quality medical care, may play an influential role in the mortality of African Americans with blood cancer, and other equally pernicious ailments.
However, researchers – from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the Duke University Medical Center in Durham – also propose that certain cancers can behave more aggressively in minority individuals, leading to worse outcomes.
The analysis sample included 84 African American patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) – a type of hematological malignancy that is rare in African Americans – and 1,571 non-black patients who were referred to the two medical centers.
All patients, regardless of race, had equal access to healthcare services and received the same treatments.
Investigators ultimately found African American patients with blood cancer did not live as long as Caucasian patients, even though they initially responded better to first-line therapy. Still, their cancer progressed more rapidly and their survival was shorter.
Dr. Alesandra Ferrajoli – an associate professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – was quoted by Headlines and Global News, saying, "These findings suggest that while inducing similarly high response rates, standard treatments do not overcome racial differences in outcome among patients with CLL."
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