Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Black, Asian, and Native American children are more likely than white and Hispanic children to die after being treated for neuroblastoma
A new study, of more than 3,500 patients with the pediatric cancer, is the largest ever to look at racial disparities in risk and survival for the most common solid cancer found in young children. The study also found that black and Native American children are more likely to have the high-risk form of the disease and show signs of resistance to modern treatment. Those biological characteristics suggest that genetic factors contribute to the outcome disparities found for neuroblastoma. While 75% of white and Hispanic patients survived five years after diagnosis, only 67% of black patients, 63% of Asian patients, and 39% of Native American patients survived to that point. Black children in the study had a higher prevalence of high-risk disease (57%) compared to white children (44%). Black patients also more frequently displayed individual predictors of high-risk disease, such as older age at diagnosis, stage 4 disease, and unfavorable histology. After two event-free years following diagnosis, black patients with high-risk disease were significantly more likely to suffer a "late-occurring" event than white patients. This observation suggests black patients are more likely to have residual cancer after therapy. Follow-up studies are underway to look for genetic factors that may predispose black children to high-risk forms of neuroblastoma and chemotherapy resistance.