Structural racism is a mediator of disparities in acute myeloid leukemia outcomes
Abraham IE, Rauscher GH, Patel AA, et al. Structural racism is a mediator of disparities in acute myeloid leukemia outcomes. Blood. 2022;139(14):2212-2226. doi:10.1182/blood.2021012830
Non-Hispanic Black (NHB) and Hispanic patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have higher mortality rates than non-Hispanic white (NHW) patients despite more favorable genetics and younger age. A discrete survival analysis was performed on 822 adult AML patients from six urban cancer centers and revealed inferior survival among NHB (HR=1.59, 95% CI: 1.15, 2.22) and Hispanic (HR=1.25, 95% CI: 0.88, 1.79) compared to NHW patients. A multilevel analysis of disparities was then conducted to investigate the contribution of neighborhood measures of structural racism on racial/ethnic differences in survival. Census tract disadvantage and affluence scores were individually calculated. Mediation analysis of hazard of leukemia death between groups was examined across six composite variables: structural racism (census tract disadvantage, affluence and segregation), tumor biology (ELN risk and secondary leukemia), health care access (insurance and clinical trial enrollment), comorbidities, treatment patterns (induction intensity and transplant utilization) and ICU admission during intensive chemotherapy. Strikingly, census tract measures accounted for nearly all of the NHB-NHW and Hispanic-NHW disparity in leukemia death. Treatment patterns, including induction intensity and allogeneic transplant, as well as treatment complications, as assessed by ICU admission during induction chemotherapy, were additional mediators of survival disparities in AML. This is the first study to formally test mediators for observed disparities in AML survival and highlights the need to investigate the mechanisms by which structural racism interacts with known prognostic and treatment factors to influence leukemia outcomes.