RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A nationwide study performed by the University of Virginia found minorities are more likely to have longer wait times to receive life-saving lung cancer treatment.

Researchers with the UVA Cancer Center found that while the average patient waits 61.7 days for treatment, there are clear disparities when separated by race.

Wait time findings broken down by race

  • White patients: 60.9 days
  • Black patients: 65.9 days
  • Asian patients: 71.9 days

“Our results suggest that non-white lung cancer patients have delayed time to cancer treatment compared with white patients, and this is not limited to a particular type of treatment facility,” said senior researcher Rajesh Balkrishnan, Ph.D., of UVA Cancer Center and the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences.

These wait times can have real consequences on those undergoing treatment, according to the study. Just a seven-day delay in treatment has been found to have a “3.2% and 1.6% increase in the risk of death for patients with stage I and stage II non-small cell lung cancer, respectively,” according to the UVA Cancer Center.

“Collaboration among providers and community stakeholders and organizations is much needed to increase accessibility and patient knowledge of cancer and to overcome existing disparities in timely care for lung cancer patients,” Balkrishnan said in the release.

The researchers listed multiple reasons for the racial disparities, including non-white patients being less likely to be insured and facing greater socioeconomic barriers to care, which may cause doctors to believe they could be at risk of not following through with treatment plans. The researchers said minorities also have a greater chance of reporting less satisfaction with their interactions with healthcare providers.

The study found racial disparities in all types of hospitals, with the longest waits for treatments at academic health systems, where the researchers suggest patients had been transferred after beginning treatment at community hospitals.

Across the board, the research showed white patients consistently had the shortest time to treatment, while Asian patients had the longest.