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Gynecol Oncol. 2012 Apr;125(1):19-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2011.11.025. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

Have racial disparities in ovarian cancer increased over time? An analysis of SEER data.

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  • 1The University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.



Race has been postulated to be a prognostic factor in women with ovarian cancer. The reasons for racial disparities are multifactorial. Recent literature suggests that racial disparities in ovarian cancer survival emerged in the 1980s, when modern treatments such as aggressive surgical debulking and platinum-based chemotherapy first gained widespread use. We suspect that as improvements in treatment have evolved, the effects of access to treatment have amplified racial disparities in survival from ovarian cancer.


SEER 9 data were analyzed, including African American and white patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer from 1973 to 2007, with 2008 as the cutoff for follow-up. Using the Kaplan-Meier method, we evaluated racial differences in survival, to determine whether this difference has increased over time.


There were 44,562 white and 3190 African American women available for analysis. Overall African Americans had 1.10 times the crude hazard (95% CI 1.06-1.15) of all-cause mortality compared to whites, with a widening trend over time (p<0.01). Adjusted for SEER registry, age, tumor stage, marital status and time of diagnosis, the hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause mortality comparing African Americans to whites was 1.31 (95% CI 1.26-1.37). When the receipt of surgery was added to the model, the HR for all-cause mortality remained higher for African American women at 1.27 (95% CI 1.21-1.34).


African Americans diagnosed with ovarian cancer have worse survival than whites, and this disparity has increased over time. Measured differences in treatment, such as receipt of surgery, account for part of the disparity.

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