Ethnic differences in colon cancer (CC) care were shown in the United States, but results are not directly applicable to European countries due to fundamental healthcare system differences. This is the first study addressing ethnic differences in treatment and survival for CC in the Netherlands.
Data of 101,882 patients diagnosed with CC in 1996–2011 were selected from the Netherlands Cancer Registry and linked to databases from Statistics Netherlands. Ethnic differences in lymph node (LN) evaluation, anastomotic leakage and adjuvant chemotherapy were analysed using stepwise logistic regression models. Stepwise Cox regression was used to examine the influence of ethnic differences in adjuvant chemotherapy on 5-year all-cause and colorectal cancer-specific survival.
Adequate LN evaluation was significantly more likely for patients from ‘other Western’ countries than for the Dutch (OR 1.09; 95% CI 1.01–1.16). ‘Other Western’ patients had a significantly higher risk of anastomotic leakage after resection (OR 1.24; 95% CI 1.05–1.47). Patients of Moroccan origin were significantly less likely to receive adjuvant chemotherapy (OR 0.27; 95% CI 0.13–0.59). Ethnic differences were not fully explained by differences in socioeconomic and hospital-related characteristics. The higher 5-year all-cause mortality of Moroccan patients (HR 1.64; 95% CI 1.03–2.61) was statistically explained by differences in adjuvant chemotherapy receipt.
These results suggest the presence of ethnic inequalities in CC care in the Netherlands. We recommend further analysis of the role of comorbidity, communication in patient-provider interaction and patients’ health literacy when looking at ethnic differences in treatment for CC.