Previous studies have demonstrated that black patients with pancreatic cancer are less likely to undergo resection and have worse overall survival compared with white patients. The objective of this study was to determine whether these disparities occur at the point of surgical evaluation or after evaluation has taken place.
The authors used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked data (1992-2002) to compare black patients and white patients with locoregional pancreatic cancer in univariate models. Logistic regression was used to determine the effect of race on surgical evaluation and on surgical resection after evaluation. Cox proportional hazards models were used to identify which factors influenced 2-year survival.
Nine percent of 3777 patients were black. Blacks were substantially less likely than whites to undergo evaluation by a surgeon (odds ratio, 0.57; 95% confidence interval, 0.42-0.77) when the model was adjusted for demographics, tumor characteristics, surgical evaluation, socioeconomic status, and year of diagnosis. Patients who were younger and who had fewer comorbidities, abdominal imaging, and a primary care physician were more likely to undergo surgical evaluation. Once they were seen by a surgeon, blacks still were less likely than whites to undergo resection (odds ratio, 0.64; 95% confidence interval, 0.49-0.84). Although black patients had decreased survival in an unadjusted model, race no longer was significant after accounting for resection.
Twenty-nine percent of black patients with potentially resectable pancreatic cancers never received surgical evaluation. Without surgical evaluation, patients cannot make an informed decision and will not be offered resection. Attaining higher rates of surgical evaluation in black patients would be the first step to eliminating the observed disparity in the resection rate. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society