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Black patients with pancreatic cancer are less likely than white patients to receive both treatment and surgery in Wisconsin, according to a new study.
Released and conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the study analyzed the information provided by the Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System of 8,490 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer from 2004 to 2017.
In their final analysis, the researchers of the study found that Black patients were about 50% unlikely to receive treatment for their diagnosis. As for surgery, which has proven to be a cure for cancer if detected in its early stages, they were found to be more unlikely to get the specific form of treatment by 33%.
The study also revealed that the rates remained lower regardless of insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and only applied to non-Hispanic Black patients out of all racial groups.
To those that were given treatment, the disparity in the survival rate was helped in part by their ability to receive some form of medication as their survival rate was closer to that of white patients who were given the same treatment.
“With that in mind, we in healthcare have a responsibility to address and break down the structural factors that can create barriers for Black patients to request and receive treatment,” said Dr. Noelle LoConte, a researcher in the study and a professor of medicine at the university, per a publication by the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Overall, a variety of factors contribute to the inaccessibility of treatment for most types of cancers for Black Americans. In addition to racial bias, financial difficulties and lack of access to transportation, the history of medicine in the U.S. can play a role in limiting access to treatment.
Since U.S. history is marred by medical abuse, such as the Tuskegee syphilis study, Black Americans can be distrustful of the medical world. According to a 2020 report by nonprofit The Undefeated and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 55% of 777 Black Americans who were interviewed admitted to being wary of the medical world.
The lack of representation and medical professionals who can understand Black patients and ease their worries in turn leads to a cautiousness when it comes to getting treatment.
Contributed in part by lower rates of treatment, Black Americans often have to deal with higher chances of passing away from cancers of which they are diagnosed at higher rates.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, the death rate for Black Americans diagnosed with the most common cancers is higher than any other racial or ethnic group.
Using information obtained from the CDC and the National Cancer Institute, the office reports that Black American men have double the chances of dying from prostate cancer than white men and are 2.5 times more likely to become a fatal victim of stomach cancer. Overall, Black American men also have a lower chance of making the five-year cancer survival rate for most cancers.
As for Black American women, they have double the chances of being diagnosed with stomach cancer of which they are more likely to pass away from and have an increased 40% chance of passing away from breast cancer.