Minority children experience a higher risk of death from many central nervous system tumor types even after accounting for treatment received: A National Cancer Database analysis

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BACKGROUND: Brain tumors are the leading cause of death from disease in children. Racial/ethnic minority children have poorer outcomes than White children; however, it is not clear whether this association is mediated by treatment received.

METHODS: Children (aged 0-19 years) diagnosed with brain tumors in the National Cancer Database (2004-2016) were identified. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) between race/ethnicity (Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, or White [reference]) and death. An inverse odds weighted mediation analysis was performed with treatment received as the mediator.

RESULTS: Among 22,469 cases, White children (69% of the sample) had significantly better overall 12.5-year survival (P < .01). Black children (13% of the sample) and Hispanic children (14% of the sample) had an increased risk of death overall and for glioblastoma and oligodendroglioma. Compared with Whites, Asian/Pacific Islander children had a higher risk of death from choroid plexus tumors and a lower risk of death from medulloblastoma. There were no statistically significant meditating effects by treatment received, although the estimate was borderline in Hispanic children (indirect HR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.99-1.18). A treatment-independent association between race/ethnicity and death remained for Hispanic children (direct HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.04-1.33) and Black children (direct HR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.13-1.45). If deaths in minorities had equaled those in White children, 5% fewer total deaths and 15% fewer minority deaths would have occurred.

CONCLUSIONS: Survival disparities exist in pediatric brain tumors and are largely independent of treatment received, but other mechanisms linked to race/ethnicity remain important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1605-1615
Number of pages11
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award T32CA163184 (principal investigators Michele Allen and Kristin J. Moore) and was administered by the University of Minnesota Medical School Program in Health Disparities Research and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. This work is also supported by the Children's Cancer Research Fund (Lindsay A. Williams).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Cancer Society


  • mediation analysis
  • pediatric brain tumors
  • racial disparities
  • survival
  • treatment differences

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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