Analysis of data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database indicated persistent racial disparities in treatment and outcomes among patients diagnosed with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in spite of advances in curative therapies. Researchers presented these results at the 2017 Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium.1

This study analyzed data in SEER from 62,312 patients 60 years or older with biopsy-proven stage I NSCLC. Researchers divided patient data into racial groups: Caucasian, African American, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Unknown.

Analyses revealed that African Americans and American Indians were less likely to receive surgery than typical patients with stage I NSCLC (55.9% and 57.6% vs 66.7% overall, respectively [P < .05]).

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Two-year overall survival was lowest among African Americans (65%) and American Indians (60%). It was higher among Caucasians (70%), Asian/Pacific Islanders (76%), and Unknown (89%).

“Racial disparities in the management of stage I NSCLC, such as less frequent rates of curative treatment with African Americans, have contributed to disproportionately lower survival rates for specific minority groups,” explained senior author Andrew M. Farach, MD, a radiation oncologist at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas.

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“Our study is the first to confirm that, even with widespread growth in the availability and adoption of advanced therapies, disparities in treatment and survival persist for early stage NSCLC. These findings bring attention to the importance of the medical system actively addressing racial disparities on pace with advancements in medical science.”


  1. Dalwadi SM, Lewis G, Butler EB, Teh BS, Farach A. Racial disparities in the treatment and outcome of stage I non-small cell lung cancer. Paper presented at: 2017 Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium; March 16-18, 2017; San Francisco, CA.