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Racial disparities seen in U.S. lung cancer treatment

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TUESDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Racial disparities exist in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer among hospitals in the United States, according to a large new study.

Although most patients with this condition undergo surgery as part of their initial treatment, researchers found that blacks were less likely than Hispanics or whites to have surgery in the early stages of the disease. Hispanics were more likely to undergo surgery for stage 1 and stage 2 disease than white patients.

"In our study of more than 1.2 million patients diagnosed with [non-small cell lung cancer] in U.S. hospitals between the years 2000 and 2010, we found statistically significant racial disparities in the surgical management of these patients," researcher Jayanth Adusumalli said in an American Thoracic Society news release.

Up to 90 percent of lung cancers are non-small cell, according to the American Cancer Society.

The new study involved 1.2 million patients from a national cancer database, about 975,000 of whom received their initial treatment following a diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer. Eighty-two percent of white patients received treatment, as well as 79 percent of black patients and 76 percent of Hispanics.

However, 82 percent of Hispanics and 78 percent of whites with stage 1 disease underwent surgery, compared to 73 percent of blacks who had surgery as their initial form of treatment. For patients with stage 2 disease, 67 percent of Hispanics, 64 percent of whites and 56 percent of blacks had surgery.

The study was scheduled for Tuesday presentation at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society in Philadelphia. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"The significant racial differences in the initial treatment of [non-small cell lung cancer] that we found in our study may contribute to the recognized racial disparities in cancer patient outcomes," said Adusumalli, of the Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Neb. "Further research into the underlying causes of these treatment disparities may help improve the treatment and prognosis of all lung cancer patients."

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about racial disparities in health care.

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