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Cancer. 2011 Aug 1;117(15):3476-84. doi: 10.1002/cncr.25839. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

Racial variation in willingness to trade financial resources for life-prolonging cancer treatment.

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Division of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-4410, USA.



Minority patients receive more aggressive care at the end of life, but it is unclear whether this trend is consistent with their preferences. We compared the willingness to use personal financial resources to extend life among white, black, Hispanic, and Asian cancer patients.


Patients with newly diagnosed lung or colorectal cancer participating in the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance observational study were interviewed about myriad aspects of their care, including their willingness to expend personal financial resources to prolong life. We evaluated the association of race/ethnicity with preference for life-extending treatment controlling for clinical, sociodemographic, and psychosocial factors using logistic regression.


Among patients (N = 4214), 80% of blacks reported a willingness to spend all resources to extend life, versus 54% of whites, 69% of Hispanics, and 72% of Asians (P<.001). In multivariate analyses, blacks were more likely to opt for expending all financial resources to extend life than whites (odds ratio, 2.41; 95% confidence interval, 1.84-3.17; P < .001).


Black cancer patients are more willing to exhaust personal financial resources to extend life. Delivering quality cancer care requires an understanding of how these preferences impact cancer care and outcomes.

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