From the Journals

Study shows no link between race and mortality in clear cell RCC



The issue of race and survival in patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) has been debated in the literature.

Some studies have shown worse survival for Black patients, while others have suggested that Black race is instead a stand-in for social determinants, including access to care.

New research suggests that Black race is not correlated with increased mortality from ccRCC. These results were published in Urology.

“Despite well documented racial biases and race-specific outcomes in the health care landscape, our study found race was not associated with 5-year cause-specific survival from ccRCC,” wrote investigator Dhaval Jivanji, a medical student at Florida International University, Miami, and colleagues.

In their retrospective study, the investigators examined 5-year survival in ccRCC patients, comparing results across races. The team used data from the Surveillance Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, which collects cancer data from 13 states using population-based cancer registries. They extracted data on demographics, prevalence, and mortality, in relation to ccRCC.

A total of 8,421 subjects with ccRCC were included in the analysis, which covered the years 2007-2015. The primary outcome was 5-year survival, defined as cause-specific mortality up to the first 60 months from time of cancer diagnosis.

In addition to race, variables included in the statistical model were age (18-50, 51-60, 61-70,71-80, >80), sex (male/female), SEER Summary tumor staging (localized, regionalized, distant), insurance status (uninsured, insured, insured not specific, Medicaid), and marital status (single, married/partner, separated/divorced/widowed).

Demographic determinism

In the adjusted analysis, the researchers found no association between race and 5-year cause-specific survival in patients with ccRCC.

The hazard ratios for death were 0.96 for Black patients, 1.01 for American Indian/Alaska Native patients, and 0.99 for Asian/Pacific Islander patients, with White patients as the comparator.

In terms of the other covariates studied, the researchers found that older age (>50 years) and the presence of regional or distant tumors were associated with an increased hazard of death, while female sex and having insurance were associated with a decreased hazard of death.

“Our study found that age, tumor stage, and insurance status are significantly associated with 5-year cause-specific survival. Future studies will benefit from complete assessment of other demographic factors, including income, medical comorbidities, and access to care. These are negative predictors, and [their] potential impact on overall survival should be considered by the clinician in treatment and management plans for RCC patients,” the researchers concluded.

In an editorial commentary published within the main article, Paul Russo, MD, of Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, stated: “Investigations such as this utilizing the SEER registries provide a 30,000-foot demographic view of some disease elements but lack important granularity, such as tumor size and grade, family income, critical medical comorbidities, and patient access to hospitals with surgical and medical oncologic expertise.”

Dr. Russo said it is well known that disparate access to diagnosis, surgical intervention, and expert treatment have an impact on survival.

He went on to ask: “Could African Americans have had superior outcomes if the data was controlled for these important variables? As urologic surgeons, we must join the greater medical community in understanding the root causes leading to structural racial and economic disparities, inequities in access to care, and the profound negative impact these disparities have on health outcomes in general and cancer outcomes specifically.”

The authors did not disclose funding or conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Jivanji D et al. Urology. 2020. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2020.10.055.

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