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Hispanic patients with lung cancer tend to live longer than white or black patients with the disease, a new study suggests. Lower rates of tobacco use, or genetic factors, may help explain the findings, according to the researchers.

The study included 172,000 adults with non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease. Between 1988 and 2007, U.S.-born and foreign-born Hispanics had a 15 percent lower risk of dying compared with whites, HealthDay reports.

Hispanic patients have better survival rates even though they face steeper obstacles to health care, and higher poverty rates, than other groups, the researchers note in the journal Cancer.

“This is important because it shows that our findings are indicative of the Hispanic population in general and not specific to specific groups of Hispanics,” lead study author Ali Saeed of University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said in a journal news release.

The study found Hispanics were more likely to be diagnosed with a less serious type of lung cancer, known as bronchioalveolar carcinoma. Saeed said this could be due to genetic factors, and/or Hispanics’ lower smoking rates. He noted that smokers are at increased risk for developing tumor types associated with a poor outcome.

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