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Black military veterans more likely to delay lung cancer surgery, which increases chances of recurrence

Black military veterans diagnosed with stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) were 25 percent more likely than Whites to delay surgery more than 12 weeks after diagnosis. Veterans who waited more than 12 weeks were more likely to have a recurrence of their cancer and they died an average of 7.5 months earlier than those who did not delay their surgery.

Researchers analysed the medical records of 9,904 veterans who underwent surgery for stage 1 NSCLC from 2006 to 2016. About two-thirds had their surgery within 12 weeks of diagnosis and about one-third after 12 weeks.

Some patients postpone surgery while seeking second opinions, because of economic or social factors, or for personal reasons such as waiting until after a child’s wedding or a planned vacation. Since 2020, worries about contracting COVID-19 in a clinical setting also have led to delays.

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