Disparity researchers still stumped on colon cancer outcome differences

At present, it's well known that African-American patients have lower individual survival rates for just about every type of cancer. Researchers have looked at a number of reasons why this might be the case, including the nature of the tumors themselves, the level of exposure to risk factors and differences in access to care, but no one factor has emerged to explain these disparities.

A recent effort to identify the reasons for lower colon cancer survival rates among black Americans doesn't seem to have had any more success. The study, which looked at the impact of patient weight and comorbidity on patient survival, examined data on 496 colon cancer patients getting surgery between 1981 and 2002. Researchers found that neither factor could account for a 34 percent higher likelihood of black patients having died by 2008.

The authors, who are affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, concluded that among patients with early-stage cancer, the risk of death from any cause was 2.2 times higher in those with a high level of comorbid illness. Being underweight was associated with an 87 percent increased risk of death, researchers found, while being overweight or obese reduced the risk of death by 42 percent among patients with stage IV colon cancer.

To get more information from the study:
- read this HealthDay News piece

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