WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28, 2022 (HealthDay News) — For patients with head and neck cancer enrolled in clinical trials, outcomes are worse for Black versus White participants, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Jeffrey C. Liu, M.D., from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the role of self-reported race in head and neck cancer by examining treatment outcomes of individuals enrolled in clinical trials that minimized access to care and socioeconomic status confounders. Data were included from seven Radiation Therapy Oncology Group studies; each Black patient enrolled in a clinical trial was matched to a White patient as a control. A total of 468 Black patients were identified and matched with 468 White controls.

The researchers found that in 60 percent of matched pairs, White participants had better outcomes than Black participants. The likelihood of having worse outcomes was consistently increased for Black participants. The failure rate was significantly higher in Black participants when outcomes were measured by progression-free survival/disease-free survival (hazard ratio, 1.50). Failure was mainly due to locoregional failure, with a higher risk seen for Black participants (subdistribution hazard ratio, 1.51). Within the paired cohorts, the development of distant metastasis was not significantly different.

“What is unique about our study is it strongly supports the conclusion that Black patients seem to respond to therapy differently than White patients,” Liu said in a statement.

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