Cervical cancer chemo easier on black women: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Black women with advanced and recurrent cervical cancer tolerate “platinum-based” chemotherapy drugs better than do their white counterparts, according to a pooled data from three studies, researchers report.

Dr. Steven C. Plaxe of the University of California, San Diego and colleagues examined data on a total of 374 white and 125 black women who were treated with a variety of chemotherapy drug combinations that included cisplatin — a platinum-based drug commonly used to fight various cancers.

The researchers found that black women had significantly less moderate to severe neutropenia (63 percent) than did whites (82 percent). Neutropenia is a condition characterized by a drop in a particular type of infection-fighting white blood cell called the neutrophil that can occur with frequent chemotherapy.

Two other chemotherapy-related side effects — leukopenia (an abnormally low white blood cell count) and thrombocytopenia (a reduction in blood clotting platelet cells) were also less common in black women than in white women.

Moreover, compared to white women, black women were not at increased risk of having their disease get worse or of dying from their disease, the study team reports in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“Our results,” Plaxe told Reuters Health, “support efforts directed at encouraging enrollment of all eligible women, particularly minorities, into clinical research studies.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, November 2008.

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