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Black patients with terminal cancer more likely to choose aggressive care at end of life
Date:5/30/2008

CHICAGOBlack patients with advanced cancer were more likely than whites to die in a hospital intensive care unit, reflecting a greater preference among blacks for life-extending treatment even in the face of a terminal prognosis, according to a study led by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The findings (abstract 6506) will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago on Monday, June 2, 3 - 6 p.m. CT, South Building, Hall100B.

The report included interview data showing that blacks more often answered yes to questions such as, "Would you want the doctors here to do everything they can to keep you alive, even if you were going to die in a day or two?"

"This is the first study focused on black/white differences that prospectively asked [terminal cancer patients] what kind of care they wanted at the end of life, and then documented the kind of care they actually received and the place of their death," said Elizabeth Trice, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber, lead author. Although they ruled out a number of possible explanations for the black/white differences, the investigators weren't able to identify precisely why blacks tended to prefer more-aggressive care.

"There is something different about the way black patients and white patients approach the end of life," Trice said, which may be based in cultural attitudes, religious beliefs, and how thoroughly they have been informed about and comprehend their prognosis, among other things.

Data on the preferences was obtained from the Coping with Cancer study led by Holly Prigerson, PhD, director of the Center for Psycho-social Oncology and Palliative Care Research at Dana-Farber and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. That study is recruiting 800 cancer patients and their informal caregivers, such as family members.

The researchers recorded the location of death for 231 white and 61 black
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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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