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Racial Disparities in Lung Cancer Outcomes Erased by Equal Access to Top Treatments

Although Black lung cancer patients are more likely to die from their disease than white patients, they have better outcomes than whites when treated with immunotherapies that are now considered the best standard of care.

This suggests that barriers to care are a key driver behind the racial disparities in lung cancer survival rates.

A team of researchers led by Tomi Akinyemiju (above) identified more than 3,000 U.S. patients with advanced lung cancer who were diagnosed between 2015-16 and treated with immunotherapies. They found that the death rate among Black patients who were treated with immunotherapy was 15% lower than for whites.

“It is quite clear that if people have access to treatment, they have better survival,” Akinyemiju said. “The question that follows is why are some not accessing health care? It’s not just about having insurance, which does help people afford treatment, but there are other important factors getting in the way.”

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