Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 699–705 | Cite as

Racial Segregation and Disparities in Cancer Stage for Seniors

  • Jennifer S. Haas
  • Craig C. Earle
  • John E. Orav
  • Phyllis Brawarsky
  • Bridget A. Neville
  • David R. Williams
Populations at Risk



Disparities in cancer survival may be related to differences in stage. Segregation may be associated with disparities in stage, particularly for cancers for which screening promotes survival.


The objective of the study was to examine whether segregation modifies racial/ethnic disparities in stage.


The design of the study was analysis of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Medicare data for seniors with breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer (n = 410,870).

Measurements and main results

The outcome was early- versus late-stage diagnosis. Area of residence was categorized into 4 groups: low segregation/high income (potentially the most advantaged), high segregation/high income, low segregation/low income, and high segregation/low income (possibly the most disadvantaged). Blacks were less likely than whites to be diagnosed with early-stage breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer, regardless of area. For colorectal cancer, the black/white disparity was largest in low-segregation/low-income areas (black/white odds ratio [OR] of early stage 0.51) and smallest in the most segregated areas (ORs 0.71 and 0.74, P < .005). Differences in disparities in stage by area category were not apparent for breast, prostate, or lung cancer. Whereas there were few Hispanic–white differences in early-stage diagnosis, the Hispanic/white disparity in early-stage diagnosis of breast cancer was largest in low-segregation/low-income areas (Hispanic/white OR of early stage 0.54) and smallest in high-segregation/low-income areas (OR 0.96, P < .05 compared to low-segregation/low-income areas).


Disparities in stages for cancers with an established screening test were smaller in more segregated areas.


race ethnicity cancer stage segregation 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer S. Haas
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Craig C. Earle
    • 3
  • John E. Orav
    • 1
    • 2
  • Phyllis Brawarsky
    • 1
  • Bridget A. Neville
    • 3
  • David R. Williams
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medical OncologyDana-Farber Cancer InstituteBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Society, Human Development, and HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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