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Gould MK, Schultz EM, Wagner TH, Xu X, Ghaus SJ, Wallace RB, Provenzale D, Au DH. Disparities in lung cancer staging with positron emission tomography in the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance (CanCORS) study. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. 2011 May 1; 6(5):875-83.
INTRODUCTION: Disparities in treatment exist for nonwhite and Hispanic patients with non-small cell lung cancer, but little is known about disparities in the use of staging tests or their underlying causes. METHODS: Prospective, observational cohort study of 3638 patients with newly diagnosed non-small cell lung cancer from 4 large, geographically defined regions, 5 integrated health care systems, and 13 VA health care facilities. RESULTS: Median age was 69 years, 62% were men, 26% were Hispanic or nonwhite, 68% graduated high school, 50% had private insurance, and 41% received care in the VA or another integrated health care system. After adjustment, positron emission tomography (PET) use was 13% lower among nonwhites and Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites (risk ratio [RR] 0.87, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.77-0.97), 13% lower among those with Medicare than those with private insurance (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.76-0.99), and 24% lower among those with an elementary school education than those with a graduate degree (RR 0.76, 95% CI 0.57-0.98). Disparate use of PET was not observed among patients who received care in an integrated health care setting, but the association between race/ethnicity and PET use was similar in magnitude across all other subgroups. Further analysis showed that income, education, insurance, and health care setting do not explain the association between race/ethnicity and PET use. CONCLUSIONS: Hispanics and nonwhites with non-small cell lung cancer are less likely to receive PET imaging. This finding is consistent across subgroups and not explained by differences in income, education, or insurance coverage.