Racial/Ethnic Disparities Seen in Economic Burden Due to Cancer Deaths

There are considerable racial/ethnic disparities in the economic burden due to premature cancer deaths, according to a study published online June 3 in JNCI Cancer Spectrum.

Jingxuan Zhao, M.P.H., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues compared person-years of life lost (PYLL) and lost earnings due to premature cancer deaths among individuals who died at age 16 to 84 years due to cancer by racial/ethnic group.

The researchers found that PYLLs due to all premature cancer deaths were 6,512,810 for non-Hispanic (NH) whites, 1,196,709 for NH blacks, 279,721 for Asian or Pacific Islanders, and 665,968 for Hispanics in 2015; these translated to age-standardized lost earning rates of $34.9 million, $43.5 million, $22.2 million, and $24.5 million per 100,000 person-years, respectively. For 13 of 19 selected cancer sites, NH blacks had higher age-standardized PYLL and lost earning rates than NH whites. Overall, 241,334 PYLLs and $3.2 billion lost earnings (22.6 percent of the total among NH blacks) could have been avoided if age-specific PYLL and lost earning rates for NH blacks were the same as those of NH whites. For all cancers combined and 18 of 19 cancer sites, there were also disparities noted for average PYLL and lost earnings per cancer death.

“The burden of many of these cancers could be reduced through improving access to effective, high quality, and targeted cancer prevention, screening, and treatment for these vulnerable populations,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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