Study Finds Disparities in Medicare Cancer Treatment
Racial disparities persist in cancer treatment of black patients older than 65, compared with treatment of white patients older than 65, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Cancer, Reuters reports.
For the study, Yale University School of Medicine researchers examined cancer treatment for more than 143,000 U.S. residents with lung, breast, colon, rectal or prostate cancer who were treated from 1992 to 2002 under Medicare.
The largest disparities were seen in treatment of lung, colon and rectal cancers, according to the study. Researchers found that among people with early-stage lung cancer, blacks were 19% less likely to have tumors surgically removed than whites.
Blacks with rectal cancer were 27% less likely than whites to undergo additional chemotherapy after having a tumor surgically removed, and blacks with colon cancer were 24% less likely to receive chemotherapy than whites after surgical removal of a tumor, according to the study. Among those with breast cancer who had a lumpectomy, blacks were 7% less likely than whites to get radiation therapy. Black men diagnosed with prostate cancer were 11% less likely than whites to receive surgical or radiation treatment, the study found.
Lead researcher Cary Gross said, "What we found was that racial disparities did not change during that 10-year time interval." Gross said possible factors for the disparities were blacks having less access to care; higher rates of certain chronic conditions among blacks, which can complicate cancer therapy; and distrust of the medical establishment among blacks (Dunham, Reuters, 1/7).