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Segregation Plays Detrimental Role For Black Lung Cancer Patients

Lung cancer patients who are black seem more likely to die of the disease than white cancer patients in the U.S., especially those living in segregated counties, according to a new study.

Researchers, who published their findings in JAMA Surgery on Wednesday, found black patients living in segregated counties had a lung cancer mortality rate about 10 percentage points higher than those patients living in diverse neighborhoods during the mid-2000s.

That compared to white lung cancer patients whose lung cancer mortality rate did not seem to change between segregated and diverse areas.

“We first thought it was a mistake. We ran it five times through the program,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Awori Hayanga, a lung transplant fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“If you are one color living in one type of neighborhood versus another, 10 percent is huge,” he said.

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women. It kills more people than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.

In 2013, the cancer society projects, over 228,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer and about 159,500 will die from it.

For the new study, Hayanga and his colleagues used national databases to collect information on lung cancer deaths in U.S. counties between 2003 and 2007. They also classified those counties as low, moderate and high segregated areas based on the concentration of one race versus another.

Nationally, black lung cancer patients had about a 59 percent mortality rate when the researchers accounted for smoking and income, compared to about a 52 percent mortality rate in white patients…

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