Proper care is an important factor in the survival of patients with head and neck cancer. According to two new studies at the Medical University of South Carolina and Hollings Cancer Center, African Americans lack the proper care. The results were published in JAMA Otolarynology-Head & Neck Surgery.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck affects the area around the throat, nose, sinuses, and mouth. The disease begins when healthy cells of the head and neck are beginning to grow rapidly, forming a tumor.
Although this type of cancer is considered rare, it has a high mortality rate. According to the American Cancer Society, 14,000 patients in the United States will be put at the end of 2018 a diagnosis, and the highest mortality observed in African Americans.
Treatment depends on the stage of the disease. According to treatment guidelines, patients undergoing surgery should receive postoperative radiation therapy within six weeks after the surgical procedure.
Research has shown that post-operative therapy is delayed in 45% of cases. Studying these results, the command also determined that 56 percent of African-American patients did not receive a timely withdrawal, compared to 43 percent of white patients.
Researchers have attempted to identify factors that have caused this delay. Patients who have received a report on the disease for seven days after the operation, four times more likely to adhere to treatment guidelines. Patients are cared for in two different hospitals often receive less adequate care.
"We know that African Americans with the disease is significantly higher mortality rate than white patients, but do not know why - says Evan Graboys, the lead author -. This study found that the delays in the treatment most often relate to blacks that may be one of the factors contributing to the decrease in survival. "
More research is needed to identify specific obstacles to the timely and equitable patient care, as well as racial differences.
Barriers for the treatment of cancer is often associated with the insurance status of the patient, the cost of the procedure, fear or distrust of the medical system, the lack of knowledge about the disease and the lack of realizing the significance of the treatment.
Researchers will try to make a difference and bring more benefits to patients in South Carolina and across the country. "We hope that these data will be useful for health policy makers to understand the magnitude of the problem and coordinate actions aimed at addressing its root causes," - says Graboys. - We can not always control the inner workings and development of the disease, but we can change the way of treating cancer in patients. "