A new study published in a leading scientific journal has shown race can have a detrimental effect on medical treatment offered by doctors.
The American study exposes racial differences in the treatment of lymphoma, with Caucasians found to be offered better treatment than African Americans.
Featured in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, a team of researchers conducted a retrospective review of all patients treated for a certain type of lymphoma at the Johns Hopkins Hospital main campus outpatient clinic in Baltimore, MD between 1999 and 2011.
The researchers looked specifically at the most widespread variant of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL): mycosis fungoides (MF).
The study found that 66% of Caucasian patients were given with the most effective treatment, Extracorporeal Photopheresis (ECP). This compares to just 35% of African Americans.
Author of the study, Ginette Hinds, M.D. said: “This study has shown a clear difference in treatment of MF across ethnic groups. It’s important to identify these variations and do all we can to eradicate them.”
The problem stemmed from how often ECP was discussed as a treatment option, with it being offered in 45% of instances to African Americans, but in 82% of discussions with Caucasians.
When ECP was discussed as a treatment option, African Americans and Caucasians had identical rates of ECP use, indicating that the issue lies with the actions of physicians.
Hinds concluded: “The reasons behind the discrepancy in the discussion of ECP are multifactorial and difficult to quantify. But this is not the first study to show treatment is influenced by race.
“Improving physician awareness of the factors which influence treatment decision-making may help diminish discrepancies in treatment regimens among patients with MF. We hope this study will prompt that change.”
Journal of Dermatological Treatment via MC2