Blacks With Pancreatic Cancer More Likely To Die


Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the tissues of the pancreas. It is estimated there will be 42,470 new cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed in the United States and 35,240 deaths from the disease this year.

Deaths from pancreatic cancer occur in most people within two years of diagnosis. Statistically, black Americans are more likely to die of the disease than whites. The National Cancer Institute states data from 2001 to 2005 show that blacks had a 32 per cent higher death rate.

The reason for this is unknown.

Dr Lauren D Arnold and colleagues have published the results of a study looking at possible reasons in the 1 September online issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. They looked at known and suspected risk factors for pancreatic cancer, such as smoking, diabetes, obesity and family history of pancreatic cancer.


The researchers used data from the longitudinal Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II), a study which recruited over 1 million participants from 1982 and noted their race/ethnicity, medical history, health habits, deaths and other outcomes.

From 1984 to 2004, there were 6,243 pancreatic cancer-related deaths. Blacks had an age-adjusted relative risk of 1.42 for pancreatic cancer mortality compared with whites.

The risk of death associated with smoking was 80% in white men vs. 56% in black men. The risk of death associated with obesity was 66% in black men vs. 42% in white men.

Dr Arnold and colleagues acknowledge, "Our data do not explain what is causing these disparities, but we hope it encourages researchers to continue looking for reasons why blacks develop and die from pancreatic cancer at higher rates than whites."

"Are Racial Disparities in Pancreatic Cancer Explained by Smoking and Overweight/Obesity?"; Lauren D. Arnold, Alpa V. Patel, Yan Yan, Eric J. Jacobs, Michael J. Thun, Eugenia E. Calle, and Graham A. Colditz.; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev first published online on September 1, 2009.

National Cancer Institute



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