Evaluating Disparities in Pancreatic Cancer Outcomes in African Americans

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Clinical Oncology


Background: Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma (PA) is a leading cause of cancer-related death across the world, with poorer outcomes observed in minority populations. The observed variation in outcomes has been attributed to delayed diagnosis, barriers to optimal treatment and health care related disparities. We sought to evaluate the impact of race on clinical presentation and outcomes in pancreatic cancer at a large academic teaching center. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma diagnosed between January 2016 to December 2021. The demographic characteristics (age, tobacco use, alcohol use, BMI); comorbidities (diabetes, acute/chronic pancreatitis); pathology, treatment (chemotherapy regimen, radiation, surgery) and progression free survival (PFS) based on race were analyzed. Results: The cohort (N = 983) consisted of 154 (16%) African Americans (AA) and 803 (82%) Non-Hispanic Whites (NHW). The median age at diagnosis was 65 years (60, 70) among AA and 71 years (64, 78) in NHW. Thirty-seven (26%) of AA and 104 (14%) of NHW were current smokers; 46 (33%) of AA and 323 (45%) of NHW consumed alcohol regularly. Among AA, 32 (22%) were obese (BMI > 30), compared to 194 (25%) in NHW. Other comorbidities included diabetes (35% in AA vs. 32% in NHW) and acute/chronic pancreatitis (11% among AA vs. 9% among NHW). The treatment modality consisted of chemotherapy (57% in AA vs. 61% in NHW), surgery (26% in AA vs. 27% in NHW) and radiation (10% in AA vs. 12% in NHW). The median time to treatment initiation was 24 (16, 41) months for AA and 34 (20, 56) months for NHW. On univariate analysis, AA race was associated with younger age at diagnosis (p 0.043), higher current tobacco use (p 0.001), lower alcohol use (p 0.012), lower rates of obesity (p 0.024) and higher rate of acute pancreatitis (p 0.037) in pancreatic cancer. On multivariate analysis, race was not associated with difference in progression free survival (12 months in AA vs. 14 months in NHW; p 0.96) when adjusted for age, sex, alcohol use, tobacco use, cancer stage and chemotherapy. Conclusions: Our study revealed that pancreatic cancer in AA was diagnosed at a younger age, associated with active smoking and pancreatitis. Although there was a shorter time to treatment initiation among AA, there was no significant difference in progression free survival compared to NHW when adjusted for other variables. Future studies incorporating novel biomarkers are needed to determine impact of racial health disparities on outcomes in pancreatic cancer.





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American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, June 2-6, 2023.