Double Jeopardy? Age, Race, and HRQOL in Older Adults with Cancer

J Cancer Epidemiol. 2012;2012:478642. doi: 10.1155/2012/478642. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Understanding the post-treatment physical and mental function of older adults from ethnic/racial minority backgrounds with cancer is a critical step to determine the services required to serve this growing population. The double jeopardy hypothesis suggests being a minority and old could have compounding effects on health. This population-based study examined the physical and mental function of older adults by age (mean age = 75.7, SD = 6.1), ethnicity/race, and cancer (breast, prostate, colorectal, and gynecologic) as well as interaction effects between age, ethnicity/race and HRQOL. There was evidence of a significant age by ethnicity/race interaction in physical function for breast, prostate and all sites combined, but the interaction became non-significant (for breast and all sites combined) when comorbidity was entered into the model. The interaction persisted in the prostate cancer group after controlling for comorbidity, such that African Americans and Asian Americans in the 75-79 age group report lower physical health than non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanic Whites in this age group. The presence of double jeopardy in the breast and all sites combined group can be explained by a differential comorbid burden among the older (75-79) minority group, but the interaction found in prostate cancer survivors does not reflect this differential comorbid burden.