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Sex-Specific Cancer Death Risk Higher in African-Americans

Last Updated: July 08, 2009.

African-American patients with sex-specific cancers had worse mortality than patients of other races despite similar therapies and follow-up, according to a study published online July 7 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

WEDNESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- African-American patients with sex-specific cancers had worse mortality than patients of other races despite similar therapies and follow-up, according to a study published online July 7 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Kathy S. Albain, M.D., of Loyola University in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data on 19,457 cancer patients who were treated in 35 clinical trials conducted by the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) between 1974 and 2001. The cancer types analyzed included breast, lung, colon, ovarian, prostate, lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma.

The investigators found that African-American patients had increased death risk for advanced-stage ovarian cancer (hazard ratio, 1.61), early-stage postmenopausal breast cancer (hazard ratio, 1.49), early-stage premenopausal breast cancer (hazard ratio, 1.41), and advanced-stage prostate cancer (hazard ratio, 1.21). No other significant associations were discerned for other cancer types. The 10-year survival rates for African-American patients compared to all other patients were: 68 and 77 percent, respectively, for early-stage premenopausal breast cancer; 52 and 62 percent for early-stage postmenopausal breast cancer; 13 and 17 percent for advanced ovarian cancer; and 6 and 9 percent for advanced prostate cancer.

"African-American patients with breast, prostate, or ovarian cancer who were treated on phase III SWOG trials had statistically significantly worse overall survival than white patients. These results are important given all patients had uniform therapy and follow-up parameters, with adjustment for stage, socioeconomic factors, and known prognostic variables," the authors write.

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