Racial Disparities Found in Brain Tumor Surgery Recommendations

University of Minnesota Medical School

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (12/14/2022) — Published in The Lancet, University of Minnesota Medical School researchers found a patient’s race may influence recommendations for surgical removal of brain tumors. According to the analysis, Black patients were independently associated with higher odds of being recommended against surgical resection in the four most common brain tumors.

“Racial disparities have existed historically throughout health care, but are often attributed to socioeconomic inequities. New data collection and analysis techniques allow us to control for these factors and start to look at whether bias is happening at a provider level,” said Andrew Venteicher, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the U of M Medical School and neurosurgeon with M Health Fairview. He is also a Masonic Cancer Center member. “Clearly, more work is needed to identify these biases and educate providers on how to address them.”

The research team studied more than 600,000 U.S. patients that were diagnosed with an intracranial tumor in the last five decades. When compared to white patients, Black patients were more likely to be recommended against surgical removal of their tumor for the four most common intracranial tumors: meningioma, glioblastoma, pituitary adenoma and vestibular schwannoma. This was independent of the tumor size, patient demographics and socioeconomic status of the patient.

These findings provide the basis for future studies to gain further insight into unrecognized racial bias in clinical decision-making, determining the impact of the biases on patient outcomes and identifying mechanisms to reduce bias.

The research team would like to acknowledge support from the Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Sontag Foundation and V Foundation for Cancer Research.

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