Acute Leukemia More Deadly in Minorities

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to die from ALL and AML than whites

(RxWiki News) The Fourth American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities is demonstrating that different races live with and survive cancers at very different rates. Acute leukemia is no exception.

Acute leukemia is seen more frequently in whites, but blacks and Hispanics die from the disease at significantly higher rates. That's what a recent observational study has demonstrated.

"Minorities are more likely to die from acute leukemia."

A team of researchers led by Manali I. Patel, M.D., M.P.H., postdoctoral fellow in hematology/oncology at the Stanford Cancer Institute, studied the statistics from 40,951 patients with acute leukemia from 1998 to 2008.

Participants included 2,299 black, 4,428 Hispanic and 22,035 white patients. Data was gathered from the National Cancer Institute's SEER database,

When compared with white patients, black patients had a 17 percent increased risk of death from acute leukemia and Hispanics had a 12 percent greater chance.

Researchers also examined the two forms of the disease - acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

Blacks had a 45 percent and Hispanics a 46 percent greater likelihood of dying from ALL than whites. With AML, the increased risks were 12 percent higher for blacks and six percent higher for Hispanics, compared to whites.

Dr. Patel says he believes various factors are to blame, although the exact reasons for the differences remain unclear.

He suggests that access to care and socioeconomic factors probably play the biggest roles.

Dr. Patel adds that as with other forms of cancer, minorities don't develop the disease as frequently as whites, but they are more likely to die from it.

Having identified the disparity in acute leukemia, Dr. Patel says will open the door to greater understanding.  Factors behind the trends can be identified, addressed and corrected, he said.

This study was presented at the Fourth AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

Research that has not been published in a peer reviewed journal is considered preliminary.

Review Date: 
September 20, 2011