Racial Comparisons in Timeliness of Colon Cancer Treatment in an Equal-Access Health System

Yvonne L. Eaglehouse, Matthew W. Georg, Craig D. Shriver, Kangmin Zhu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Non-Hispanic black (NHB) adults with cancer may have longer time-to-treatment than non-Hispanic whites (NHW) in the United States. Unequal access to medical care may partially account for this racial disparity. This study aimed to investigate whether there were racial differences in time-to-treatment and in treatment delays for patients diagnosed with colon cancer in the equal-access Military Health System (MHS). Methods: Patients age 18-79 years diagnosed with colon adenocarcinoma between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 2014, were identified in the Department of Defense Central Cancer Registry and the MHS Data Repository-linked databases. Median time-to-treatment (surgery and chemotherapy) and 95% confidence intervals were compared between NHBs and NHWs in multivariable quantile regression models. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals of receiving delayed treatment defined by guidelines for NHBs relative to NHWs were estimated using multivariable logistic regression. Results: Patients (n = 3067) had a mean age at diagnosis of 58.4 (12.2) years and the racial distribution was 76.7% NHW and 23.3% NHB. Median adjusted time-to-treatment was similar for NHB compared to NHW patients. The likelihood of receiving delayed treatment was similar between NHB and NHW patients. Conclusions: In the MHS, there was no evidence of treatment delays for NHBs compared to NHWs, suggesting the role of equal access to medical care and insurance coverage in reducing racial disparities in colon cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdjz135
Pages (from-to)410-417
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


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