According to the American Cancer Society, African Americans with chronic lymphocytic leukemia who commonly present with the advanced stage of this disease have shorter survival rates than Caucasians. Interestingly, both groups have received the same treatment in the studies associated with the findings.
This suggests that there are some biological factors involved that account for racial differences in cancer survival. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the Duke University Medical Center in Durham suggest that some cancers tend to be more aggressive in minority groups, generating poor outcomes.
The analysis done by the American Cancer Society included 84 African Americans with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CCL) which is actually a rare form of blood malignancy in African Americans. The analysis also included 1,571 non-black patients that had been referred to the two medical centers. Regardless of race, all had access to health services and received identical treatment.
Even though African Americans initially responded better to first-line therapy, their cancer developed more rapidly and their survival times were shorter.
According to Dr. Alesandra Ferrajoli, associate professor at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, “These findings suggest that while inducing similarly high response rates, standard treatments do not overcome racial differences in outcome among patients with CLL.”