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Jake Keator
May 27, 2022

An April 4th study published in JAMA Network Open revealed a startling racial disparity in surgical care of GI patients of color.

The study included 565,124 patients with GI tract cancer who underwent surgical resection including a diagnosis from Jan. 1, 2004, to Dec. 31, 2017. Of those patients included, 10.9-percent were people of color, while 83.5-percent were white, according to Becker’s.

Impact of racial disparity

Findings showed black patients had “lower rates of negative margins, adequate lymphadenectomy, and receipt of adjuvant therapy compared to white patients.”

This disparity in the equality of care provided in the GI landscape is made even more surprising when paired with information from the American Cancer Society, adding that, “black people are more likely to die from most cancers and to live the shortest amount of time after a cancer diagnosis than any other racial/ethnic group.”

Further statistics from the ACS emphasize the need to ensure quality care for black patients, including:

  • Black people have the second-highest incident rate of colorectal cancer, behind only the Alaska Native/American Indian population.
  • In comparison to white adults, black men and women see incident rates that are nearly 20-percent higher.
  • Death rates from colorectal cancer in black men are 44-percent higher than white men. Rates for women are 32-percent higher in comparison to white women.

Surgical intervention

The perceived drop in the standard of GI care for patients of color was not the only implication. It also described how black patients were less likely to receive any surgical intervention for gastrointestinal tract cancer.

The study concluded that people of color were less likely to be recommended for chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This was due to issues of comorbidity and other “unknown reasons”. The researchers acknowledge that steps have been taken in the past to combat racial disparities in GI care. However, the study adds that differences in care based on sociodemographic features still exist and may play a role in survival inequities.

At PE GI Solutions and our partnering practices and centers, we commit to provide quality patient care to all patients at every stage of the patient journey.

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