WASHINGTON (AP) -- While blacks facing serious illnesses often do not fare as well as whites due to differences in their medical care, a study shows that when both groups get the same treatment the outcomes are similar.
The study focused on advanced colorectal cancer. Physicians at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston reported their findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
"When you look at national statistics, African-American patients with colon cancer do worse than Caucasians. Although one would assume they ought to do the same, they don't," said Dr. Charles S. Fuchs, lead author of the study.
Yet when they get equal access to state-of-the-art oncology care, the outcome is equivalent, he said.
In addition, Fuchs said, the study found blacks generally have fewer treatment-related side effects than whites.
That was unexpected, he said, "but certainly bolsters the idea that African-Americans should get the same access to chemotherapy as Caucasian Americans."
Dr. Alan R. Nelson, head of the American Society of Internal Medicine, said the finding that equal treatment results in equal outcomes is "an important study."
"It shows that, in my view, we have an obligation to make sure our medical care is color blind," he said.
On the Net:
Journal of the National Cancer Institute: http://jncicancerspectrum.oupjournals.org
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