Black Patients With Early-Stage Colon Cancer Get Worse Care Than Whites: Study

FRIDAY, Nov. 10, 2023 (HealthDay) -- Rates of colon cancer among relatively young Americans continue to rise, and a new study suggests that a patient's race might determine the quality of cancer care they receive.

Being a Black patient appeared linked to lower odds of receiving "guideline-concordant" care for colon and rectal cancers, compared to white patients, according to a study published Nov. 8 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and the incidence and mortality rates among young adults are rising,” noted study lead author Leticia Nogueira.

“Research also shows young Black individuals are more likely to die after a colorectal cancer diagnosis than White individuals," said Nogueira, who is scientific director of health services research at the American Cancer Society (ACS). "This is why addressing racial disparities is so important, to ensure everyone receives needed, timely treatment to help battle this disease.”

In the study, she and her colleagues tracked the care of almost 85,000 colon cancer patients and nearly 63,000 rectal cancer patients, all aged between 18 and 49 at the time they were diagnosed.

To be deemed to have received care in line with expert guidelines, patients were expected to have received proper staging of their disease, lymph node testing and recommended chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

Black patients were more likely to have gone without recommended care than white patients, the study concluded.

Parsing out why that might be so, Noguiera's team found that about 28% of the disparity for colon cancer patients could be blamed on a relative lack of health insurance among Black patients.

Longer wait times among Black patients to receive recommended therapies also played a role.

“With health insurance being the largest modifiable factor contributing to racial disparities in this study, it’s critical to eliminate this barrier,” Nogueira said in an ACS news release. “Expanding access to health insurance coverage could help improve colorectal care and outcomes."

More information:

Find out more about treatment for colorectal cancers at the National Cancer Institute.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, Nov. 8, 2023

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