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  • Posted May 30, 2024

Cancer Patients Get Poorer Care at Hospitals Serving Minority Communities

Cancer patients receive less effective treatment at hospitals that mainly serve minority communities, a new study shows.

More than 9% of cancer patients are treated at hospitals where a significant percentage of patients are from minority groups, researchers say.

Those patients are less likely to get the best care for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer, according to an analysis of about 2.9 million U.S. patients who received care at 1,330 hospitals between 2010 and 2019:

  • Patients treated for breast cancer were 17% less likely to receive surgery, which is considered the definitive treatment for that cancer

  • Prostate cancer patients were 31% less likely to receive radiation, surgery or ablation

  • Lung cancer patients were 27% less likely to receive surgery or radiation

  • Colon cancer patients were 19% less likely to receive surgery

If these hospitals improved to the national average, more than 5,700 additional patients would receive the best cancer care available over 10 years, researchers predicted.

“Access to care is a significant factor contributing to racial differences in cancer mortality, alongside biological differences. Therefore, improving services at hospitals that primarily serve minority populations could be a crucial part of a wider effort to achieve healthcare equity,” said lead researcher Dr. Quoc-Dien Trinh, with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Additional funding could help improve these hospitals, as well as targeted improvements, researchers said.

The new study was published May 27 in the journal Cancer.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more on cancer disparities.

SOURCE: Brigham and Women's Hospital, news release, May 27, 2024

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