July 10, 2019 – Differing Risk


Anchor lead: Are blacks more likely to develop lung cancer if they smoke than whites? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Blacks who smoked less than whites as measured by pack years of smoking were still at risk to develop lung cancer, a recent study found, but would have been missed by current screening guidelines. Otis Brawley, professor of oncology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins, says it’s a mistake to view these findings as evidence of increased risk based on ethnicity.

Brawley: Ninety, ninety-nine percent of the time that we have looked at a disparity it has been social or economic. There are biologic differences amongst populations, but those differences rarely parallel racial differences. Area of geographic origin can play a role, but race in itself is not a biologic categorization.  :26

Brawley notes that when a complete assessment of risk factors is made, those based on ethnicity largely disappear, so he advocates for such an approach to individualize care. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.