St. Jude's Study Shows Equal Treatment Access Can Yield Equal Survival, Regardless of Race

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(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Equal access to comprehensive treatment can yield equal survival outcomes for African-American and Caucasian children with cancer, according to a group of researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN. The study, entitled “Treatment Outcomes in Black and White Children with Cancer: Results from the SEER Database and St Jude Children's Research Hospital, 1992 through 2007,” was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on April 30.

The aim of this study was to determine whether recently improved treatment options had narrowed the gap in outcome between African-American and Caucasian pediatric patients. Survival data were obtained from 1 of the 17 cancer registries of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program or from patients treated at St Jude Children's Research Hospital. Data obtained were collected from 1992 to 2000 and from 2001 to 2007. Data analysis was performed to compare, in parallel, and by disease category, survival outcomes between African-American and Caucasian patients with childhood cancer who were registered in SEER.

The analysis revealed that African-American patients had “significantly poorer rates of survival than did Caucasian patients, with the exception of a few types of cancer,” the investigators wrote. “Despite significantly improved treatment outcomes for patients who were treated from 2001 to 2007, the racial difference in survival has actually widened for acute myeloid leukemia and neuroblastoma. Importantly, the outcome of treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and retinoblastoma has improved, in parallel, for both races during the most recent study period.” For cohorts treated at St Jude Children's Research Hospital, there were no significant differences in survival between African-American and Caucasian patients in either study period, regardless of the cancer type.  

The investigators concluded that with equal access to comprehensive treatment, African-American and Caucasian children with cancer can achieve the same high cure rates.


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