Population-based studies suggest African Americans (AAs) with rectal cancer have a worse overall outcome compared with non-AAs. This relationship was explored in a cohort of rectal cancer patients treated with preoperative chemoradiation therapy (CRT) and surgery at 2 academic cancer centers.
A total of 146 patients (26 AA, 120 non-AA) underwent treatment with curative intent. The median age was 57 years. Median dose was 50.4 Gy, given with 5-fluorouracil-based concurrent chemotherapy. Differences in disease presentation, adherence to recommended therapy, and treatment outcome (freedom from failure) by race were analyzed. Median follow-up was 34 months from completion of CRT.
AAs had longer time from diagnosis to start of therapy (median, 45 vs. 35 d; P<0.01) and from CRT completion to surgery (median, 42 vs. 46 d; P=0.03). AA patients presented with more favorable disease (20% stage I, 33% stage III) compared with non-AA patients (0% stage I, 48% stage III, P<0.01). AA patients were less likely to receive adjuvant chemotherapy (58% vs. 89%, P=0.01). Log-rank analysis showed AAs were not more likely to recur after therapy (freedom from failure at 3 y, 100% for AA patients vs. 81% for non-AA patients, P=0.09). The difference in time from preoperative therapy to surgery and a lower rate of adjuvant therapy in AA patients did not seem to result in inferior disease outcome for this cohort.
Further study is necessary to explore the reasons underlying the delays in therapy and lower rates of adjuvant chemotherapy for AA patients.