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Lung cancer is the number one cause of all cancer-related deaths. Although cases are declining, mortality rates remain high. Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine sought to determine how race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status relate to survival rates in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

The study was conducted using data from the Florida Cancer Data System registry, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, and the U.S. Census. A total of 98,541 participants were included in the study. Survival time was calculated from the date of diagnosis to the date of death or last contact.

Participant racial/ethnic demographics included non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Asian Indian/Pakistani, and other. Socioeconomic status was determined by using the percentage of the individual’s census tract living under the federal poverty line as a proxy.

Ultimately, it was found that the median survival rate for Black participants was only 8.4 months, the lowest survival rate of any population. At five-year follow-up, white participants had the highest survival rate at 16.3%, and Pacific Islander participants had the lowest at only 6.4%. Survival rates were found to be significantly affected by patient socioeconomic status, with patients with lower socioeconomic status having decreased survival rates.

In the adjusted model, it was discovered that the Asian participants had significantly improved survival compared to the white participants.

The researchers concluded that race and socioeconomic status seem to impact non-small cell lung cancer survival. A call to action is made for healthcare providers to engage at-risk groups, particularly low-income, Black, and Pacific Islander Floridians, in early lung cancer screenings. Doing so may help rectify these disparities in survival, allowing all populations with non-small cell lung cancer to enjoy equal opportunities for positive outcomes [1].

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[1] Tannenbaum, S. L., Koru-Sengul, T., Zhao, W., Miao, F., & Byrne, M. M. (2014). Survival disparities in non–small cell lung cancer by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The Cancer Journal, 20(4), 237–245. https://doi.org/10.1097/ppo.0000000000000058

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