Lifestyle, Not Race, Plays Major Role in Lung Cancer Survival

June 1, 1995

Race does not play a stastically significant role in lung cancer patients'survival, a recent analysis shows. Instead, cigarette use, stage of disease, and other factors appear to be reasons more African-Americans die of lung cancer than their Caucasian

Race does not play a stastically significant role in lung cancerpatients'survival, a recent analysis shows. Instead, cigaretteuse, stage of disease, and other factors appear to be reasonsmore African-Americans die of lung cancer than their Caucasiancounterparts, the analysis indicates.

The analysis reviewed 1,565 patients with non-small-cell lungcancer who were treated on cancer research studies conducted bythe Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG).

"We looked at possible factors that could influence survival,"says Dr. Jim Cox, Professor of Radiotherapy at the Universityof Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "We foundthat age, sex, weight loss, stage of disease, and the amount ofsymptoms patients had when they were diagnosed with lung canceraffected survival. For example, older patients with later stagedisease and more symptoms tended to have a shorter survival time,"says Dr. Cox, an author of the study. Race did not make a statisticallysignificant difference, he says.

Smoking rates among African-American adults are higher than thosefor Caucasians. Black smokers are more likely to smoke highertar and nicotine brands than are white smokers, and smoking highertar brands is associated with higher lung cancer incidence andmortality rates, according to the US Department of Health andHuman Services.

"I strongly believe we can make a positive difference inshows.Instead, cigarette use, stage of disease, and other factors appearto be reasons more African-Americans die of lung cancer than theirCaucasian counterparts, the analysis indicates.

The analysis reviewed 1,565 patients with non-small-cell lungcancer who were treated on cancer research studies conducted bythe Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG).

"We looked at possible factors that could influence survival,"says Dr. Jim Cox, Professor of Radiotherapy at the Universityof Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "We foundthat age, sex, weight loss, stage of disease, and the amount ofsymptoms patients had when they were diagnosed with lung canceraffected survival. For example, older patients with later stagedisease and more symptoms tended to have a shorter survival time,"says Dr. Cox, an author of the study. Race did not make a statisticallysignificant difference, he says.

Smoking rates among African-American adults are higher than thosefor Caucasians. Black smokers are more likely to smoke highertar and nicotine brands than are white smokers, and smoking highertar brands is associated with higher lung cancer incidence andmortality rates, according to the US Department of Health andHuman Services.

"I strongly believe we can make a positive difference inthe survival rates of lung cancer patients," says Dr. Cox."We know smoking is deadly. People need to take responsibility.They should quit smoking whether they have lung cancer now ornot. If they do have lung cancer they also need to seek the bestquality of care-such as the kind of care that is found in clinicaltrials," he says.