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Equal access to care helps close survival gap for young African-American cancer patients
Date:4/30/2012

A new analysis from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital adds to evidence that equal access to comprehensive treatment and supportive care typically translates into equally good outcomes for most young African-American and white cancer patients.

Researchers found no significant difference in survival rates between African-American and white children treated at St. Jude for virtually all cancers during a 15-year period ending in 2007.

Racial disparities in cancer survival are widely recognized among African-American patients of any age. These patients are less likely than their white counterparts to become long-term cancer survivors. While this and previous studies have highlighted the success of St. Judes in closing the gap, investigators reported that the disparities persisted for many U.S. pediatric cancer patients. The work appears in the April 30 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study spans an era of significant advances in the treatment of several childhood cancers that by 2007 had helped to push the nation's overall five-year pediatric cancer survival rate past 80 percent. But results reported to the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program from throughout the U.S. show that African-American patients did not share equally in those advances. SEER compiles data from 17 states and metropolitan cancer registries. Together those registries cover about 26 percent of the U.S. population.

Ching-Hon Pui, M.D., chair of the St. Jude Department of Oncology and the study's lead author, said the findings underscore the importance of giving patients equal access to comprehensive cancer treatment. While an individual's cancer risk may vary based on race or ethnicity, Pui said this study demonstrates that comprehensive risk-directed therapy and supportive care help patients enjoy excellent outcomes equally. "This study shows that with outstanding medical care
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-595-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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