Researchers study survival in African American versus Caucasian lung cancer patients

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 160,340 lung cancer deaths occurred in the United States in 2012, accounting for 28 percent of all cancer deaths. While survival from lung cancer has improved since the early 1990s, racial differences in lung cancer survival persist such that blacks experience poorer 5-year survival for lung cancer compared to whites.

In the October issue of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer's journal, the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO), researchers conclude that while proportionally more blacks present with late-stage disease there is no difference in stage-adjusted lung cancer mortality between blacks and whites of similar low socioeconomic status.

Researchers conducted a among 81,697 racially diverse and medically underserved adults enrolled in the Southern Community Cohort Study throughout an 11-state area of the Southeast from March 2002 to September 2009. The geographic areas include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Participants were aged 40-79 years at enrollment and approximately two-thirds self-reported as black/African American.

The researchers conclude that, "when demographic factors, smoking and lung are controlled, lung cancer survival between black and white is similar, even among primarily low-income and medically underserved populations."

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