MONDAY JAN 7, 2008 (Foodconsumer.org) -- In the
United States, blacks are more likely than whites to receive less cancer treatments, according to a new study released Monday in the journal of Cancer, published by the American Cancer Society.
The study led by Dr. Cary Gross at the Yale University School of Medicine in
New Haven and colleagues shows that disparities first recorded in the early 1990's have not disappeared in spite of efforts to get rid of them.
In the study, the researchers looked at more than 143,000 Americans age 65 or older for the treatment they received for lung, breast, colon, rectal and prostate cancer between 1992 and 2002. Patients were all under the Medicare government health insurance program.
The disparities have not changed during the ten-year period although steps were taken by some doctors and hospitals to understand and address the issue.
"This sort of thing has been a problem in the
United States for a long, long time," Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"I think individual racism likely accounts for a small amount of it, but not a large amount. What I would refer to as institutional or societal racism accounts for a much larger component of it."
Specifically, among those who had early stage lung cancer, whites were 19 percent more likely than blacks to get surgical removal of the tumor.
For rectal cancer, whites were 27 percent more likely to get additional chemotherapy after surgery, which is believed to benefit the patients by getting rid of any residue cancer cells.
Whites with colon cancer were also 24 percent more likely to get additional chemotherapy.
Among those with breast cancer who received a lumpectomy, whites were 7 percent more likely to get radiation therapy. And white men with prostate cancer were 11 percent more likely to get surgical or radiation treatment.
The study did not reveal what impact these disparities would have on the mortalities or survival rates.
It is a fact that on average cancer patients who did not receive conventional treatments actually lived longer than those who received.