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Blacks not receiving chemotherapy for rectal cancer, despite seeing cancer specialists
Date:5/13/2008

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Black patients and white patients are seeing rectal cancer specialists at similar rates, but blacks are still less likely to receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study found blacks were 23 percent less likely to receive chemotherapy for rectal cancer and 12 percent less likely to receive radiation therapy than whites.

Although there wasnt 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, says study author Arden Morris, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School and chief of general surgery at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

The study appears online May 13 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The researchers found that 73 percent of blacks and 75 percent of whites saw a medical oncologist after being diagnosed with rectal cancer. But only 54 percent of blacks went on to receive chemotherapy, while 70 percent of whites did. Similarly, rates of referral to a radiation oncologist did not differ significantly, but only 74 percent of blacks, compared to 83 percent of whites, received radiation.

The data came from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Registrys Medicare-linked database. SEER is maintained by the National Cancer Institute and collects information about cancer incidence, treatment and mortality. The study looked at 2,582 whites and 134 blacks aged 66 and older who had been diagnosed with rectal cancer
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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