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N C Med J. 2013 Nov-Dec;74(6):464-9.

The relation of race and type of health insurance to long-term risk of mortality among lung cancer patients in rural Eastern North Carolina.

Author information

  • 1Corresponding author: Jimmy T. Efird, Department of Public Health, Center for Health Disparities, Brody School of Medicine, and Leo Jenkins Cancer Center, East Carolina University, Physicians Quadrangle N, Greenville, NC 27834, USA.



Black patients with lung cancer have a higher mortality rate than do their white counterparts. Differences in insurance coverage, demographic characteristics, and treatment profiles may explain this disparity. The purpose of this study was to compare the longterm risk of mortality of black lung cancer patients with that of white lung cancer patients, by insurance type.


Patients who were diagnosed with lung cancer in Eastern North Carolina and treated at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center between 2001 and 2010 were included in this study. A Cox regression model was used to compare the risk of mortality of black patients with that of white patients.


A total of 2,351 lung cancer patients (717 black and 1,634 white) were treated at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center during the study period. Independent of age and sex, black patients with lung cancer were observed to die sooner than their white counterparts (hazard ratio = 1.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-1.3; P = .0070). However, this difference was not statistically significant after controlling for and stratifying by insurance type.


Residual confounding and the misclassification of some variables could have biased estimated study effects.


The racial disparity in lung cancer mortality observed in Eastern North Carolina is no longer apparent after health insurance type is accounted for.

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