White Brits most likely to die within a year from brain cancer, according to new study


White British people who have cancerous brain tumours are more likely to die within one year than patients from at least four other ethnic groups, a new study has found.

Researchers from King’s College London who looked at whether ethnicity could impact the chance of survival from a malignant brain tumour, have found that white British people are more likely to die within one year of being diagnosed.

The study, which is the first of its kind, found that people who categorised themselves as ‘other ethnic’ were 30 percent less likely to die within one year.

The results also showed that patients from three other ethnic categories had a decreased risk of death when compared to white British patients.

For example, the researchers found that those from an Indian background were 16 per cent less likely to die from a cancerous brain tumour.

(stock image)White British people who have cancerous brain tumours are more likely to die within one year than patients from at least four other ethnic groups, a new study has found

White British people who have cancerous brain tumours are more likely to die within one year than patients from at least four other ethnic groups, a new study has found (stock image)

Ms Hiba Wanis, a PhD student and research assistant within the Centre for Cancer, Society & Public Health at King’s, found that brain tumours were diagnosed more often in white British people.

But even so, a higher percentage of white patients died within one year, when compared to people from other ethnic groups.

Ms Wanis looked at data from 24,319 adult patients living in England, who had been diagnosed with a malignant primary brain tumour between 2012 and 2017.

She then calculated the risk of death for each ethnic category including, white British, any other white (including white Irish), other ethnic, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, black African, and black Caribbean patients, up to one year following their diagnoses.

Ms Wanis found that within the five year period, a total of 13,339 (64 percent) white British people had died from brain tumours.

The study made the comparison between 19 people of Bangladeshi origin (63 percent) who died from brain tumours, 166 (52 percent) of Indian origin, 533 (52 percent) of other white origins, 95 (51 percent) of Pakistani origin, and 280 (41.5 percent) of other ethnic groups.

Ms Wanis, who was particularly interested in this area of research because it hadn’t been explored in detail before, said: ‘Brain tumours are under-researched compared to other cancers, and until now, no study has investigated the impact of a person’s ethnicity on brain tumour survival using the information on patients in the whole of England.

‘The improved and detailed cancer data captured by the National Disease Registration Service now within NHS Digital provided a good opportunity to explore the impact of varied ethnic groups on brain tumour survival for the whole of England.’

While the results of the study show an undeniable link between ethnicity and survival rates, there are other factors to consider that may play a role in such notable death rates.

Ms Wanis explained: ‘It is probably too early to speculate on what may lie behind these differences, but a number of factors may be involved.

‘These include how early people ask their doctors about symptoms, how early in the disease a diagnosis is made, better reporting, lifestyle and cultural factors, deprivation, tumour characteristics and behaviour, and treatment options.’

Ms Wanis is now in discussion with her colleagues about how they can investigate these factors in more detail, including how they can incorporate data from patient representatives to explore areas like the accuracy of death registration for patients in ethnic minority groups compared to others.

The study, which is the first of its kind, found that people who categorised themselves as 'other ethnic' were 30 percent less likely to die within one year (stock image)

The study, which is the first of its kind, found that people who categorised themselves as ‘other ethnic’ were 30 percent less likely to die within one year (stock image)

She added: ‘These findings inform investigations of whether death is equally well-reported between the different groups, or whether better prognostic factors are operating to improve survival.’

Ms Wanis and her collaborators hope that these findings will help doctors to provide relevant and accurate information on a patient’s prognosis while helping them to understand why they could be at a higher or lower risk of survival than other groups of people.

Michael Jenkinson, a professor of Neurosurgery and Surgical Trials at the University of Liverpool, UK, commented on the study’s findings.

He said: ‘This new study is not only the first to investigate the impact of ethnicity on brain tumour survival but also the first to consider the different types of brain tumours across patients in England.

‘As the quantity and quality of data have significantly improved in recent years, the researchers have been able to carry out a detailed analysis, and the results help to fill in the gaps in what is currently an under-researched area of cancer.’

Professor Jenkinson, who is also the chairman of the NCRI Brain Group added: ‘However, further research is needed to consider other factors that may play a role in these differences such as a patient’s lifestyle and how early they received their diagnosis.

‘Once explored further, the findings could be vital for doctors to provide appropriate information to patients on their prognosis.’

The study’s findings were presented at the NCRI Festival.

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