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News from Cancer: Disparities in head and neck cancer patients
Date:10/5/2008

A new analysis finds considerable disparities in survival related to race and socio-economic status among patients with head and neck cancer. Published in the November 15, 2008 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates that earlier diagnosis and greater access to treatment could improve outcomes for these cancers among African Americans and the poor.

A number of studies have examined disparities in cancer survival among different groups to help identify interventions to improve patient outcomes. To investigate factors that impact survival from head and neck cancer, Dr. Leonidas Koniaris and colleagues at the University of Miami School of Medicine reviewed all head and neck cancer cases in Florida between 1998 and 2002. By mining information from the Florida Cancer Data System and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration dataset, they were able to accumulate data on diagnoses, comorbid conditions, and procedures performed during every hospitalization or outpatient visit among 20,915 head and neck cancer patients during that time.

The review found poorer outcomes were associated with race, poverty, age, gender, tumor site and stage, treatment type, and a history of smoking and alcohol consumption.

Regarding race, the average survival time among Hispanics was 47 months, compared with 40 months among Caucasians and 21 months among African Americans. African American patients were diagnosed at a younger age and presented with more advanced disease compared with Caucasians. For all tumor stages, African American patients had a significantly shorter average survival time than Caucasians, regardless of poverty level. Treatments also differed between these two races: Caucasians were more likely than African Americans to have undergone surgery (45 percent vs. 32 percent), while African Americans were more likely than Caucasians to receive chemotherapy (26 percent vs. 19 percent
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Contact: David Sampson
david.sampson@cancer.org
213-368-8523
American Cancer Society
Source:Eurekalert

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