(HealthDay News) — Among patients with head and neck cancer enrolled in clinical trials, outcomes are worse for Black patients than for White patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Jeffrey C. Liu, MD, from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the role of self-reported race in head and neck cancer by examining treatment outcomes of individuals enrolled in clinical trials.

Data were included from 7 Radiation Therapy Oncology Group studies. Each Black patient enrolled in a trial was matched to a White patient as a control. A total of 468 Black patients were identified and matched with 468 White control individuals.

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In 60% of matched pairs, White participants had better outcomes than Black participants. The likelihood of having worse outcomes was consistently increased for Black participants.

The failure rate was significantly higher in Black participants when outcomes were measured by progression-free survival/disease-free survival (hazard ratio, 1.50; P <.001). Failure was mainly due to locoregional failure, with a higher risk seen for Black participants (subdistribution hazard ratio, 1.51; P =.002). The risk of distant metastasis was not significantly different between the cohorts.

“What is unique about our study is it strongly supports the conclusion that Black patients seem to respond to therapy differently than White patients,” Dr Liu said in a statement.

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