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Whites more prone to Cancer

Written by: Staff
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WASHINGTON, Apr 4: Black patients with colorectal cancer are 20 per cent less likely than white patients to be recommended for add-on (or ''adjuvant'') chemotherapy, new research indicates.

The finding comes from a look-back study that included all 17,174 black and white colorectal cancer patients diagnosed in Alabama during a recent 7-year period. Dr. Hanaa S. Elhefni, from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio reported the results at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

At a press briefing on health disparities, in which Dr.

Elhefni's study was highlighted, Dr. Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, an oncologist from the University of Chicago said: ''This study shows that doctors are not recommending treatments for colorectal cancer that we know are effective and we need to find out why.'' It's important to note, Elhefni told Reuters Health, that among those patients who were recommended for adjuvant chemotherapy, the compliance rates among blacks and whites were ''exactly the same -- about 48 per cent -- so if you tell blacks to take chemotherapy, they are as likely as whites to take it, but they are not being recommended for chemotherapy at the same level.'' For both blacks and whites, getting adjuvant chemotherapy was associated with significantly higher 5-year survival rates.

There remains ''a large gap between African Americans and Caucasians in terms of all health indicators but specifically in cancer-related mortality,'' Elhefni noted.

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 5-year survival rate for whites with colorectal cancer rose to 64 per cent over the last 25 years; for blacks, the survival rate improved to just 55 per cent.

''The gap may be due to biological effects, environmental effects, the combination of both, but also maybe because they are not getting recommended chemotherapy,'' Elhefni said.

''We know that both blacks and whites benefit significantly from adjuvant chemotherapy for colorectal cancer so if we want to bridge this gap we have to recommend treatment for them,'' Elhefni concluded.

REUTERS DKS BST0850

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