Racial Differences in Treatments and Toxicity in Patients With Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Treated With Thoracic Radiation Therapy

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JCO Oncol Pract


PURPOSE: Historical racial disparities in lung cancer surgery rates resulted in lower survival in Black patients. Our objective was to examine racial differences in thoracic radiation treatments and toxicities in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: A large institutional review board-approved statewide patient-level database of patients with stage II-III non-small-cell lung cancer who received definitive thoracic radiation from March 2012 to November 2019 was analyzed to assess associations between race and other variables. Race (White or Black) was defined by patient self-report. Provider-reported toxicity was defined by Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 4.0. Patient-reported toxicity was determined by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung quality-of-life instrument. Univariable and multivariable regression models were fitted to assess relationships between race and variables of interest. Spearman rank-correlation coefficients were calculated between provider-reported toxicity and similar patient-reported outcomes.

RESULTS: One thousand four hundred forty-one patients from 24 institutions with mean age 68 years (range, 38-94 years) were evaluated. Race was not significantly associated with radiation or chemotherapy approach. There was significantly increased patient-reported general pain in Black patients at the preradiation and end-of-radiation time points. Black patients were significantly less likely to have provider-reported grade 2+ pneumonitis (odds ratio 0.36, P = .03), even after controlling for known patient and treatment factors. Correlation coefficients between provider- and patient-reported toxicities were generally similar across race groups except for a stronger correlation between patient- and provider-reported esophagitis in White patients.

CONCLUSION: In this large multi-institutional study, we found no evidence of racial differences in radiation treatment or chemotherapy approaches. We did, however, unexpectedly find that Black race was associated with lower odds of provider-reported grade 2+ radiation pneumonitis. The stronger correlation between patient- and provider-reported esophagitis and swallowing symptoms for White patients also suggests possible under-recognition of symptoms in Black patients. Further research is needed to study the implications for Black patients.

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ePub ahead of print

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