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Black Rectal Cancer Patients Less Likely to Get Chemo, Radiation
Date:5/13/2008

See oncologists as often as whites, researchers not sure why different choices of treatment follow

TUESDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Even though black and white rectal cancer patients have similar referral rates to oncologists, blacks are less likely to receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy, new research shows.

In their study, researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center looked at 2,582 white patients and 134 black patients, aged 66 and older.

The study found that 75 percent of whites and 73 percent of blacks saw an oncologist after being diagnosed with rectal cancer, but only 54 percent of blacks received chemotherapy, compared with 70 percent of whites. In addition, rates of referral to a radiation oncologist were similar, but only 74 percent of blacks received radiation therapy, compared with 83 percent of whites.

The findings were published in the May 13 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"Although there wasn't a discrepancy between African-Americans and whites in the rates of consultation with an oncologist, we found a large discrepancy in the receipt of chemotherapy. This is very important. We knew that African-Americans were not receiving chemotherapy for rectal cancer at the same rates as white Americans, and it was contributing to their increased mortality. Now we have a better idea of where the problem lies: somewhere between the visit with the oncologist and the actual initiation of chemotherapy," study author Dr. Arden Morris, an assistant professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School and chief of general surgery at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, said in a prepared statement.

Compared to whites, blacks have as much as a 20 percent worse long-term survival rate after rectal cancer surgery. It's known that the use of chemotherapy and radiation improves survival in all rectal cancer patients by as much as 20 percen
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