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Report: African-Americans, Hispanics, Older Americans Not Benefiting Equally From Improvements in Colon Cancer Treatment

Survival improvements seen mainly in non-elderly Caucasians and Asians (February 14)

While new and better treatments have improved the odds of survival for patients with late-stage colorectal cancer, that progress has been largely confined to non-Hispanic Caucasians and Asians and to those younger than 65 years of age, according to a new study from the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Researchers found that there have been no significant increases in survival rates for Hispanics and African–Americans with metastatic colon cancer. The study, published in the January issue of Cancer Causes and Control, concludes that the findings underscore the need for concerted efforts to increase access to new treatments for minority groups and older patients, as well as a better understanding of the factors contributing to the disparities in survival.

The researchers analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, which covers about 14% of the U.S. population. They looked at survival improvement for metastatic colorectal cancer across major ethnic groups and two broad age ranges (20 to 64 years and over 65 years). A total of 49,893 patients were included in the analysis.

The study found that overall 5-year survival rates increased significantly between 1992–1997 and 2004–2009 for non-Hispanic Caucasians (9.8% to 15.7%) and for Asians (11.4% 17.7%). The increases were not statistically significant for African–Americans (8.6% to 9.8%) or Hispanics (14.0% to 16.4%). Moreover, while survival rates increased significantly for those 65 years of age and older for non-Hispanic Caucasians, those increases were much smaller than the increase among those aged 20 to 64 years.

The authors concluded that increases in survival from metastatic colorectal cancer, presumably from improvements in treatment, have been largely confined to younger non-Hispanic Caucasians and Asians, and that there has been no statistically significant increase in survival for African–Americans and Hispanics.

Source: ACS; February 14, 2014.

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