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Study shows deaths from acute leukemia higher in minority patients

While Caucasian patients are more likely to develop acute leukemia, African-Americans and Latinos diagnosed with the diseases have a higher death rate, according to findings presented this week a the American Association for Cancer Research conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

Health Day reports:

After studying medical records of nearly 41,000 patients with acute leukemia between 1998 and 2008, the researchers found that blacks had a 17 percent higher risk of dying of acute leukemia than whites, and Hispanics had a 12 percent higher risk.

Acute leukemia comes in two forms, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myelogenous leukemia. One of them -- the former -- revealed a much higher difference in mortality. Blacks and Hispanics with acute lymphoblastic leukemia faced about a 45 percent and 46 percent higher risk, respectively, of dying than whites. For acute myelogenous leukemia, the added risk was 12 percent for blacks and 6 percent for Hispanics.

Manali I. Patel, MD, study lead researcher and a postdoctoral fellow in hematology/oncology at the Stanford Cancer Institute, commented on potential reasons for the disparity in a American Association for Cancer Research release:

We don't know the reason for the disparity, but now that we know it exists we can investigate why it occurs. Like all disparities in cancer, there could be any combination of influences; however, we believe that socioeconomic factors and access to care may be playing an important role

Previously: A conversation with Augustus White, a pioneer for underrepresented minorities, Report reveals disparities in well-being among racial and ethnic groups in U.S. and Surgeon’s memoir calls for an end to health disparities

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