Black Americans with second primary cancer are more likely to pass away, according to a newly released study.
Published last Friday by researchers from the American Cancer Society, the study examined the information from 18 Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registries across the U.S. Approximately 230 of the 370 people involved in the study were diagnosed with a type of second primary cancer at the age of 20 or more, meaning that they were diagnosed with a second cancer that was unrelated to their first cancer type.
In their results, the researchers reported that Black Americans with second primary cancer recorded the highest percent of cancer-related deaths out of every racial and ethnic group.
Overall, Black Americans with second primary cancer had an increased 21% rate of cancer-related deaths and an increased 41% of cardiovascular-related death when compared to white patients with two cancers. Hispanic Americans with second primary cancer recorded the second highest rates of deaths due to cancer at an increased rate of 10% when compared to white Americans.
The risk of passing away was higher for ten types of second primary cancer types for Black Americans, including uterine cancer.
“These disparities were, in part, attributable to unfavorable stage distributions at second primary cancer diagnosis among Black and Hispanic populations, particularly for breast cancer, uterine cancer, and melanoma,” said the lead author of the study and senior principal scientist of cancer surveillance research at the American Cancer Society, Dr. Hyuna Sung, per a press release. “Complementing the currently expanding knowledge on SPC risk and care, the findings highlight research priorities to address survival disparities among the growing population of multiple primary cancer survivors.”
Previously, a variety of racial disparities have been documented in cancer cases and treatment. According to nonprofit The Kaiser Family Foundation, although they recorded the highest decrease in cancer mortality rates across all racial and ethnic groups, Black Americans continued to have the highest mortality rate when it came to cancer rates in 2018.
A lack of and delays in cancer screening also contribute to these higher rates as screening guidelines and changes in diagnostic evaluation vary for Black Americans. Underrepresentation in clinical trials, social factors, economic factors and less access to health care have all been identified as factors of racial inequities in the health care system, particularly when it comes to cancer treatment.
“Ending cancer as we know it requires public health interventions that ensure everyone has equitable access to quality, affordable and timely access to prevention and early detection,” said Lisa Lacasse, the president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, per a press release. “Elected officials at all government levels currently have the opportunity – and responsibility – to save countless lives from cancer by promoting these efforts.”