Disparities in the treatment of pancreatic cancer

December 10th, 2019

I wanted to call your attention to a sobering article just published in JAMA Surgery (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/article-abstract/2756305 ). In this study, Dr. Danielle Heller and colleagues studied 278,936 pancreatic cancer patients included in the National Cancer Database. They found that the survival of white patients was longer than the survival of black patients (6.6 months vs. 6.0 months), that black patients presented at an earlier age than white patients, and that black patients had more advanced disease at presentation. Remarkably, black patients with surgically resectable disease (stage II) were less likely to undergo surgery than were white patients with surgically resectable disease. This study suggests a one-two punch for black patients with pancreatic cancer. They may tend to have more aggressive disease (diagnosed at a younger age and with more advanced disease) and even when they are diagnosed early, with resectable disease, they are less likely to undergo surgery than are their white counterparts. New approaches are needed to address the inconsistencies in care that some black patients receive.