Racial Disparity Shown in Endometrial-Cancer Survival
Findings from two recent studies suggest a biological cause for the difference in survival rates between African-American and Caucasian women with endometrial cancer.
Akinso: Medical scientists have known for years that how a person reacts to certain diseases can depend, to a degree, on that person's ethnic background. Now, researchers at the National Cancer Institute, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, report findings from two studies that may suggest a biological cause for the difference in survival rates observed between African-American and Caucasian women with endometrial cancer. The first study looked at patient-survival rates in four endometrial-cancer clinical trials. Doctor Larry Maxwell is the Director of the Gynecologic Disease Center at Walter Reed. He and his collaborators demonstrated that African-American women with endometrial cancer have a 25-percent-greater chance of dying than Caucasian women with the same diagnosis.
Maxwell: In the setting of a clinical trial, patients are all receiving similar treatment — irrespective of their race. In this analysis of the data from the Gynecologic Oncology Group, we, in fact, confirmed our suspicion that patients with advanced-stage endometrial cancer still have worse outcome — even when receiving similar treatment in a clinical-trial setting.
Akinso: The second study focused on gene patterns in similar cancer cells from African-American and Caucasian women. Researchers, at first, could not identify gene patterns specific to women of either race. However, when the focus was shifted to advanced cancers, they found that gene patterns in cancer cells did tend to be identifiable by race. Doctor Maxwell added that the studies do not imply that African-Americans and Caucasians are genetically different. However, differences in culture and social structures might cause different racial groups to display a distinct genetic profile. This is Wally Akinso, at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Larry Maxwell