Racial and ethnic disparities in neurocognitive, emotional, and quality-of-life outcomes in survivors of childhood cancer: A report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study

Cancer. 2019 Oct 15;125(20):3666-3677. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32370. Epub 2019 Jul 10.

Abstract

Background: Survivors of childhood cancer are at risk of neurocognitive impairment, emotional distress, and poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL); however, the effect of race/ethnicity is understudied. The objective of this study was to identify race/ethnicity-based disparities in neurocognitive, emotional, and HRQOL outcomes among survivors of childhood cancer.

Methods: Self-reported measures of neurocognitive function, emotional distress (the Brief Symptom Inventory-18), and HRQOL (the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 health survey) were compared between minority (Hispanic, n = 821; non-Hispanic black [NHB], n = 600) and non-Hispanic white (NHW) (n = 12,287) survivors from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (median age, 30.9 years; range, 16.0-54.1 years). By using a sample of 3055 siblings, the magnitude of same-race/same-ethnicity survivor-sibling differences was compared between racial/ethnic groups, adjusting for demographic and treatment characteristics and current socioeconomic status (SES).

Results: No clear pattern of disparity in neurocognitive outcomes by race/ethnicity was observed. The magnitude of the survivor-sibling difference in the mean score for depression was greater in Hispanics than in NHWs (3.59 vs 1.09; P = .004). NHBs and Hispanics had greater survivor-sibling differences in HRQOL than NHWs for mental health (NHBs: -5.78 vs -0.69; P = .001; Hispanics: -3.87 vs -0.69; P = .03), and social function (NHBs: -7.11 vs -1.47; P < .001; Hispanics: -5.33 vs -1.47; P = .001). NHBs had greater survivor-sibling differences in physical subscale scores for HRQOL than NHWs. In general, the findings were not attenuated by current SES.

Conclusions: Although no pattern of disparity in neurocognitive outcomes was observed, differences across many HRQOL outcomes among minorities compared with NHWs, not attenuated by current SES, were identified. This suggests that further research into environmental and sociocultural factors during and immediately after treatment is needed.

Keywords: cancer; disparity; ethnicity; pediatric; race; survivor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology
  • Cancer Survivors / psychology*
  • Child
  • Emotions*
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Young Adult