Study Says Black Women Disproportionately Suffer Throughout Cancer Treatment

Black women with gynecologic cancers suffer more from their malignancy and its treatment than their white counterparts, according to a study of patient-reported outcomes (PROs), presented by Rachel Sisodia, MD, at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer. In addition, black women report significantly less emotional and social support than white women.

“Knowledge about the experiences of black women with gynecologic cancer has been minimized by under-recruitment to clinical trials and by a paucity of clinical PRO programs,” said Dr Sisodia, a gynecologic oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. “These data provide a unique glimpse, from the patient’s own voice, into their differential experience of women receiving oncologic care.”

The collection of PROs is associated with improved outcomes in patients with cancer, but to date, little research has examined the PROs of black women undergoing treatment for gynecologic malignancies. To address this gap in the research, Dr Sisodia and her colleagues implemented the routine, prospective collection of PROs throughout the treatment and surveillance of all women with gynecologic malignancies at their institution.

All patients received the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30 and the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Emotional/Instrumental Support Questionnaires, in addition to a disease-specific PRO measure. Questionnaires were available in the online portal prior to each patient’s appointment and were also offered on tablets in the clinic. Results were immediately made available to medical providers in the electronic health record.

Between January 2018 and May 2019, 1811 patients were assigned questionnaires. Eighty-four percent of respondents were white (N = 1518) and 4% were black (N = 72). The majority of patients had ovarian cancer (N = 397), followed by uterine (24.6%, N = 316), cervical (22.7%, N = 293), and vulvar (6.2%, N = 80). Questionnaires were completed 77% of the time, and there was no difference in response rate by race.

According to the results, black women have significantly lower emotional support, and also reported significantly less help with daily activities. On the EORTC QLQ-C30, black women were more likely to have “extremely poor” health and “extremely poor” quality of life. Questions such as, “How much has your disease interfered with your family life?” and “How much has your disease interfered with social activities?” also revealed that black women reported higher rates of disease interference in their family life, social activities, and cognition.

  • SGO 2020 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer. Abstract 534.

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