A Literature Review of Racial Disparities in Overall Survival of Black Children With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Compared With White Children With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

J Pediatr Oncol Nurs. May/Jun 2020;37(3):180-194. doi: 10.1177/1043454220907547. Epub 2020 Feb 24.


Despite major advances in acute lymphoblastic leukemia [ALL] treatment, poorer overall survival (OS) persists for Black children with ALL compared with White children with ALL. The purpose of this literature review was to examine the racial disparities on OS in Black versus White children with ALL. The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Medline, PubMed, and Academic Search Complete databases were searched using the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms: survival or mortality or outcome AND black or African-American or AA or minority AND racial disparities or race or racial/ethnic disparities AND cancer in children or pediatric cancer or children with leukemia or children with ALL for articles published in English between January 2009 and July 2019. Exclusion criteria were non-research articles, systematic reviews, conference abstracts, editorials, commentaries, correspondence, and case reports. Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, data were extracted, appraised, and synthesized. Sixteen articles met the inclusion criteria. Sample sizes across studies ranged from 184 to 31,866 participants. The factors most associated with disparities in OS included: age at diagnosis (e.g., <1 year and/or >10 years old), differences in clinical prognosticators (e.g., white blood cell count at diagnosis, T-cell vs. precursor B-cell immunophenotype, central nervous system disease status, cytogenetic profile) and lower socioeconomic status. Future prospective studies are needed to elucidate the role of these factors in OS of Black children with ALL.

Keywords: Black children with ALL; overall survival or survival outcome; racial disparities.