Racial Differences in the Health of Older-Adult Long-Term Cancer Survivors

This article focuses on differences between African-American and White older adults who were long-term (five or more years postdiagnosis) survivors of cancer regarding reported health problems, symptoms of illness, functional difficulties, health worries and concerns, and overall perceptions of health. A conceptual model examined the relationship between demographic factors (e.g., race, age, cancer- and treatment-related factors) and perceptions of health (e.g., burden of disability, health concerns and worries, and self-rated global health). Regression analysis examined quantitative data from in-person interviews with 180 survivors of breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer obtained from the tumor registry of the Ireland Cancer Center at University Hospitals Health System of Cleveland. African Americans were oversampled to represent 50% of the total sample. The analysis indicated that African Americans experienced poorer functional health after cancer, even after disease and treatment factors were controlled for. However, compared with White survivors, African Americans did not report significantly more symptoms attributed to either cancer or its treatment, suggesting that their poorer health after cancer may not have been a result of either factor but to other comorbid conditions. Moreover, because the extensiveness of treatment is a significant predictor of functional disability, attention must be paid to the degree to which more extensive treatment among African Americans translates into greater disability.

Journal of psychosocial oncology. 2002 Jan [Epub]

Gary T Deimling, Michael L Schaefer, Boaz Kahana, Karen F Bowman, Judy Reardon

a Sociology and Medical Research-Oncology , Case Western Reserve University , Cleveland , OH , USA., b Department of Sociology , Case Western Reserve University , Cleveland , OH , USA., c Department of Psychology , Cleveland State University , Cleveland , OH , USA., d Department of Sociology , Case Western Reserve University , USA.