Objectives: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: Further study is necessary to explore the reasons underlying the delays in therapy and lower rates of adjuvant chemotherapy for AA patients.