Racial disparities in colon cancer survival rates may be explained by overall health at the time of diagnosis rather than differences in treatment received, according to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Colon cancer is the fourth-most common cancer in the United States. Black patients have higher incidence of colon cancer than white patients and are more likely to die from the disease. Researchers sought to determine the extent to which differences in overall health at diagnosis or differences in treatment could explain this disparity in survival. A total of 7,677 black patients with colon cancer were sequentially matched with three groups of white patients. Patients were matched first by demographic characteristics, then presentation (overall health including tumor size and comorbid conditions), and then treatment.
The researchers found that treatment differences accounted for only a very small percentage of the overall racial disparity in 5-year survival. Most of the disparity in survival is explained by poorer health of black patients at diagnosis, with black patients presenting with more advanced disease and more comorbid conditions.
Source: American College of Physicians