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Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Socioeconomic Status, Diagnosis, Treatment and Survival among Medicare-insured Men and Women with Head and Neck Cancer


To determine whether racial disparities persist in Medicare-insured elderly patients with head and neck cancer, we studied 7,480 patients diagnosed with head and neck cancer at age 65 or older in 1991–2002, identified from tumor registries maintained by the 16 areas participating in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program. Patients receiving cancer-directed surgery had significantly lower risks of both all-cause and disease-specific mortality than others; those with lower socioeconomic status were more likely to die of all causes than patients with higher socioeconomic status. African Americans had a marginally higher risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio = 1.19, 95% CI: 1.07–1.33), but had no significantly different risk of disease-specific mortality compared with Whites (1.09, 0.91–1.30). In conclusion, the risk of mortality was not significantly different among African Americans and Hispanics compared with Whites in specific tumor sites of head and neck cancer except a marginally elevated risk of all-cause mortality in African Americans with oral cavity tumor.

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