Women, Blacks, Elderly Less Likely To Receive Chemotherapy, Study Finds
Women, blacks and elderly patients with advanced colon cancer are less likely to receive chemotherapy than other patients despite evidence that the treatment improves survival rates, according to a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. For the study, researchers from the National Cancer Institute analyzed data from about 86,000 patients at 560 hospitals nationwide and found that the rate of colon cancer patients who received chemotherapy in addition to surgery increased from 39% in 1991 to 64% in 2002.
According to the study, about two-thirds of participants who received chemotherapy in addition to surgery were alive after five years, compared with about 50% of those who only received surgery. Chemotherapy also improved the five-year survival rate among participants by an average of 16%.
In addition, the disparity in chemotherapy rates among black colon cancer patients decreased between 1991 and 2002 until the difference was no longer significant, but the disparity remained for women and elderly patients, according to the study.
NCI researcher J. Milburn Jessup, a co-author of the study, declined to comment on the reason for the disparities (Johnson, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/7).
In related news, women ages 65 and older who have received radiation therapy for cervical or rectal cancer are as much as three times more likely than other women to experience a hip fracture, according to a second study published in JAMA, Bloomberg/Chicago Tribune reports. For the study, researchers at the University of Minnesota examined the rate of pelvic and hip fractures among 2,449 women ages 65 and older who had received radiation therapy for pelvic cancers (Orland, Bloomberg/Chicago Tribune, 12/7).
The first study is available online.
An abstract of the second study is available online.