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

and psychosocial support African-American patients should not necessarily fare worse than white patients," he said.

The study focused on survival rates for African-American and white children battling one of 19 cancers. Researchers analyzed the outcome for 4,128 St. Jude patients and for 23,885 pediatric patients in the SEER database. The SEER patients were treated at various U.S. medical centers.

The cancers were all diagnosed between either 1992 and 2000 or 2001 and 2007. During that 15-year period, about 19 percent of St. Jude patients self-identified as African-American and about 75 percent as white. About 10 percent of the SEER patients in this study were African-American and almost 58 percent were white.

The analysis of SEER results found African-American patients generally had significantly worse outcomes than white patients with the same cancer. The racial survival gap narrowed during the treatment eras included in this study for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Hodgkin lymphoma, but widened for those battling acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and neuroblastoma, a tumor of the nervous system.

During the same period at St. Jude, African-American and white patients enjoyed similar survival gains, particularly those treated for ALL, AML and the eye tumor retinoblastoma. Overall, African-American and white St. Jude patients had similar odds of becoming long-term survivors. The possible exception was children with a few rare cancers and advanced disease when treatment began.

"These findings flow directly from Danny Thomas' strong view that to conquer childhood cancer, treatment must be equally available across all racial and ethnic groups, which has been the case at St. Jude since he opened the doors in 1962," said Dr. William E. Evans, St. Jude CEO and a study co-author.

The SEER and St. Jude patients differed in several important ways; including the strength of diagnostic testing for certain b
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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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