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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Low Income Black Patients Have a Lower Survival Rate From This Kind of Cancer

African American patient with esophageal cancer

Recent research has discovered yet another type of cancer with racial health disparities. The study, led by study senior author Dr. Matthew Hartwig, assistant professor of surgery at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., shows that low-income blacks who are diagnosed with esophageal cancer have a lower survival rate than whites with the disease.

The key to higher survival rates

According to the study, the survival for low-income black patients was 26 months, and 40 months for low-income white patients. But when income levels were compared, the survival for high earning black patients was 61 months, and 52 months for the highest earning white patients. So, clearly, income level is the key to higher survival rates.

The relationship between income level and optimal health care

Researchers looked at U.S. national data on more than 6,100 patients with esophageal cancer who had surgery for their disease. Although surgery and treatment represent the best optimal care for patients with esophageal cancer, only 5 percent of blacks had the surgery.

Although the results of the study are still considered preliminary, it clearly shows a link between the survival rate of blacks and their socioeconomic status. Another study author, Dr. Loretta Erhunmwunsee, explained it by saying, "This finding suggests that targeting socioeconomic differences may help combat racial health disparities."

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