When it comes to cancer, the probability of survival in the United States is sharply divided along racial lines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans have a death rate 25 percent higher than their white counterparts, and Latinos are significantly more likely to be diagnosed at a late, more dangerous stage.
Now, as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month kicks off this month, a new study suggests children suffer from such disparities, Healio reports.
Citing previous research indicating that Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black children have a lower survival rate than white children for several types of lymphomas, leukemias, central nervous system (CNS) tumors and other cancers, students in the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota set out to investigate whether these racial and ethnic disparities could be attributed to underlying differences in socioeconomic status.
For the study, researchers evaluated population-based cancer survival data from a database of 31,866 Black, white and Latino children up to 19 years old who were diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and 2011. They found that nine cancers showed significant racial disparities among Black children, including a 38 percent higher risk of mortality for neuroblastoma and a 95 percent increased risk of death for astrocytoma when compared with white children.
Hispanic children also had a higher risk for mortality for all cancers except Hodgkin lymphoma,
Among both racial groups, a higher socioeconomic status mitigated some of the disparities, mediating mortality gaps for several cancers. However, the difference did not make up for disparities in several types of cancer, including CNS tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, nephroblastomas, Hodgkin lymphoma
“We cannot rule out the potential role of other mediation pathways,” researchers wrote, adding, “Racial/ethnic disparities could theoretically be addressed through initiatives that reduce social and economic barriers to effective care.”
The researchers recommended expanding health insurance coverage, improving patient care coordination, increasing health literacy and supplementing transportation and childcare costs during treatment.