Social reform to eliminate health disparities is necessary so that Black people, the most vulnerable group for advanced colorectal cancer, get the care they need for a disease that is curable if caught early, says City of Hope expert.
DUARTE, Calif. — Colorectal cancer is more prevalent among Black people, a group that has the highest rates of death for an illness that is curable if caught early.
“The unfortunate reality is that minorities, especially Black people, have a much lower chance of getting lifesaving cancer treatment. Health care works within a social construct, and to change health disparities, we need social change,” said Mustafa Raoof, M.D., surgical oncologist at City of Hope and senior author of a study published in JAMA Network Open today.
City of Hope researchers retrospectively looked at the data of 16,382 adult patients in the California Cancer Registry and found that Black patients were the least likely to receive chemotherapy (59% compared to 65% among white people) and had a 17% higher chance of death compared to white people even when the scientists controlled for age, sex and comorbidities.
“These troubling statistics are the result of a disparity in access to health care,” Raoof said. “We observed that if Black people with metastatic colorectal cancer had access to subspecialists with expertise in liver resection, they would not experience higher numbers of unnecessary deaths due to underutilization of lifesaving therapies.”