Background: Despite recent advances in cancer, racial disparities in treatment outcomes persist, and their mechanisms are still not fully understood. The objective of this study was to examine racial differences in frailty and geriatric assessment impairments in an unselected cohort of older adults with newly diagnosed gastrointestinal (GI) malignancies. Methods: This study used data from the Cancer and Aging Resilience Evaluation Registry, a prospective cohort study that enrolled older adults (≥60 years) with GI malignancies who were presenting for their initial consultation. Participants who had a geriatric assessment completed before chemotherapy initiation and self-reported as either White or Black were included. Frailty was defined with a frailty index based on the deficit accumulation method. The differences in the prevalence and adjusted odds ratios for frailty and geriatric assessment impairments between Black and White participants were examined. Results: Of the 710 eligible patients who were seen, 553 consented with sufficient data for analyses. The mean age at enrollment was 70 ± 7.1 years, 58% were male, and 23% were Black. Primary cancer diagnoses included colorectal cancer (32%), pancreatic cancer (27%), and hepatobiliary cancer (18%). Black participants were more likely to be frail (50.0% vs 32.7%; P <.001) and report limitations in activities of daily living (27.3% vs 14.1%; P =.001), instrumental activities of daily living (64.8% vs 47.3%; P =.002), and walking 1 block (62.5% vs 48.2%; P =.004). These associations persisted even after adjustments for age, sex, education, cancer type, cancer stage, and comorbidity. Conclusions: Black participants were frailer and reported more limitations in function in comparison with White participants. These findings may partially explain disparities in cancer outcomes and warrant further examination.
- geriatric oncology
- racial disparities