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Disparities in cancer care reflect hospital resources, U-M study finds
Date:8/20/2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Hospitals that treat more black cancer patients have worse survival rates on average for patients with breast and colon cancer, regardless of race, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The research helps explain why African-Americans with breast or colon cancer are less likely than white patients to survive the disease.

"This work highlights the importance of how where a patient receives treatment for cancer affects survival after cancer surgery. An important next step will be to determine which system factors are amenable to interventions aimed at improving the quality of cancer care," says study author Tara M. Breslin, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School.

The study used five year survival data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End ResultsMedicare-linked database, a federal collection of cancer incidence, survival, and prevalence. The researchers analyzed data from 25,571 breast cancer patients, 9.7 percent of whom were black, and 22,168 colon cancer patients, 11.8 percent of whom were black. The patients were treated in 436 hospitals.

The study appears in the Aug. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Survival rates were lower for black patients than for white patients with both breast and colon cancer. But hospitals where more than half the patients were black had an increased risk of dying after five years for both black and white patients, compared to hospitals where fewer than 10 percent of patients were black.

All breast cancer patients treated at predominantly black hospitals had a 32 percent increased risk of death after five years, compared with those treated at hospitals that see few black patients. Similarly, colon cancer patients had a 27 percent higher risk of dying at five years.

The researchers also examined patient factors, such as age, cancer stage, other medical c
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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