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Black Veterans do as well or better than Whites with lung cancer care in VA

Black Veterans with lung cancer receive comparable care, resulting in equivalent, if not superior, treatment outcomes as White Veterans at the Veterans Administration, according to a study by VA St. Louis researchers.

Previous research in the general population has shown that Black patients are less likely than White patients to undergo surgery for lung cancer. Some studies have also shown that Black patients are less likely to receive high quality surgical procedures. Even when Black patients do receive surgery, they tend not to live as long as white patients after treatment.

VA is an equitable health insurance system. All Veterans receiving care through VA should have equal access to all types of care with little to no cost to the patient. VA also provides services that help address the social determinants of health that often lead to unequal care based on race.

The researchers looked at data from 18,800 VA patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer. Black Veterans were less likely to experience major post-operative complications, the researchers found. There was no difference between the groups in 30-day readmissions to the hospital and deaths within 30 days death following discharge from the hospital. Black Veterans were found to live significantly longer than white Veterans during the six years following surgery.

VA cancer care appears to be more equitable than care received in the private sector, where significant racial disparities exist.