DUARTE, Calif., June 4, 2012 — Advances in medicine over the past 30 years have turned an 80 percent death rate in pediatric cancers into an 80 percent survival rate; however, adolescents and young adults fall into a gap in which progress against cancer has not kept up. Julie Wolfson, M.D., M.S.H.S., assistant professor in pediatrics, in collaboration with Can-Lan Sun, M.D., Ph.D., associate research professor in outcomes research, and Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., Ruth Ziegler Chair in Population Sciences and director of City of Hope’s Center for Cancer Survivorship, led an investigation into outcome disparities for young adult patients diagnosed between 22 and 39 years of age. Findings from the study are being presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.
“We found that care at a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center (NCICCC) enabled increased survival rates than treatment at other locations, and negates the racial/ethnic disparity in survivorship we currently see in young adult patients,” said Sun, who is presenting the study at ASCO.
The research team obtained data for over 10,000 patients who were between 22 and 39 years old when first diagnosed with a cancer — including lymphoma, leukemia, brain tumors, melanoma, thyroid cancer, and cancers of the genitals and urinary system. The diagnosed cases were reported to the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance Program over the 10-year period between 1998 and 2008.
Of this group, 9 percent of the patients received treatment from a NCICCC. There are three NCICCCs in L.A. County — City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“Our analysis revealed that five-year overall survival rates were worst for African-American, followed by Hispanic, and best for non-Hispanic white. Patients receiving treatment at a comprehensive cancer center had better survival compared to those treated at a non-NCICCC facilities,” said Sun. “We also found that among those receiving treatment at NCICCCs, African-American and Hispanic patients were at similar risk of death compared to non-Hispanic whites.”
“Thirteen percent of non-Hispanic white patients received treatment at NCICCCs compared to 4 percent of Hispanic and African-American patients. We are continuing our investigations into what barriers may be limiting ethnic minority young adult patient access to an NCICCC for treatment,” said Bhatia.