Ethnic inequalities in patients’ cancer journeys identified in new research

This week vital new research was published in the British Journal of Cancer regarding the differences in cancer diagnostic pathways between Black and Asian patients compared to their White counterparts.

The team, which included six CanTest researchers including lead author Dr Tani Martins, examined data from almost ¼ of a million individuals diagnosed with 10 different types of cancer to determine whether there are differences in diagnostic routes that patients typically follow in their cancer diagnosis journey (emergency, elective GP referral, two-week wait (2WW), screen-detected, hospital, and other routes).

The ethnicity of patients was recorded (based on group labels of Asian, Black, White, Mixed, Other), with the study aiming to seek a possible explanation for poorer cancer outcomes (clinical and patient’s) among ethnic minority groups in the UK (particularly the Asian and Black groups).

Some of the key findings included: Patients of ‘Other’ ethnic background were most commonly diagnosed via emergency routes (surprisingly followed by White patients). Black and Asian patients were most commonly diagnosed via GP referrals, and Black patients were more likely than patients from other ethnicities to be diagnosed via the 2WW route. Black patients were less likely to be diagnosed via screening (consistent with a typically lower uptake of screening opportunities).

As the first study to investigate ethnic differences in routes to diagnosis of cancer (using primary care data linked to hospital and cancer registry data), in a relatively under-researched subject area, the research has identified areas for further future investigation, as well as recommendations going forward, such as aligning ethnicity groupings with those of the Office for National Statistics for consistency/greater definition.

To see the full research article please click here, and to see additional coverage from The Guardian newspaper please click here.

Lead author Dr Tani Martins is a committee member for the upcoming Black in Cancer Conference (held in partnership with CRUK).

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