Study reveals cancer treatment disparities at minority-serving hospitals

It's important to ensure that care provided at US hospitals that predominantly serve Black and Hispanic populations is as high-quality as the care provided at other US hospitals. New research reveals significant disparities in the delivery of cancer-related care at minority serving hospitals (MSHs) compared with non-MSHs, however. The findings are published by Wiley online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

For the study, investigators analyzed information from the National Cancer Database (which accrues approximately 70% of US cancer diagnoses) to identify patients eligible for definitive treatment for breast, prostate, non-small cell lung, and colon cancers between 2010 and 2019. Definitive treatment was defined as surgery for breast and colon cancer; surgery, radiation, or ablation for prostate cancer; and surgery or radiation for non-small cell lung cancer.

Of approximately 2.9 million patients who received care at 1,330 hospitals between 2010 and 2019, 9.3% were treated at MSHs. Among patients with breast cancer, those treated at MSHs were 17% less likely to receive definitive cancer treatment. For prostate, lung, and colon cancer, those treated at MSHs were 31%, 27%, and 19% less likely to receive definitive treatment respectively. These disparities persisted even after accounting for various sociodemographic and clinical factors.

The study's authors calculated that if efforts successfully improved treatment rates at MSHs to match those at non-MSHs, 5,719 additional patients would receive definitive cancer treatment over 10 years. Providing additional funding and targeted improvements to hospitals without adequate resources may be important steps towards reaching this goal and could help to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes.

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."

Quoc-Dien Trinh, MD, MBA, lead author of Brigham and Women's Hospital

Source:
Journal reference:

Beatrici, E., et al. (2024) Estimating the impact of enhanced care at minority-serving hospitals on disparities in the treatment of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers. Cancer. doi.org/10.1002/cncr.35328.

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