Even With Equal Care, Racial Disparity Persists in Blood Cancer, Study Finds

Blacks with chronic lymphocytic leukemia fare worse than whites

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MONDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- Black Americans with blood cancer do not live as long as white patients with the disease, a new study finds, even when they receive equal levels of care.

Researchers looked at 84 black patients and more than 1,500 non-black patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which is a rare disease in blacks. All patients received the same treatments.

The time from diagnosis to referral for treatment was shorter for blacks than whites, but blacks were more likely to have more advanced CLL at the time of referral. Blacks responded as well as whites to first-line treatment, but their cancer progressed more rapidly, and their survival time was shorter.

This shorter survival time among blacks persisted even after the researchers grouped patients according to factors related to the severity of their disease, according to the study, which was published online July 8 in the journal Cancer.

The findings indicate that biological factors may account for racial differences in survival among patients with CLL, the researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., said in a journal news release.

For reasons that are unclear, minorities tend to have worse cancer outcomes than whites. In black patients, poverty and limited access to high-quality care often play a role, but some experts believe that certain cancers can be more aggressive in minority patients.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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