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Racial Disparities in Cancer Death Rates February 19, 2009

Filed under: Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 5:36 pm

The latest biannual report of the American Cancer Society details the disparity in cancer death rates for African Americans. The attention to this topic is a powerful reminder that health disparities are still a real problem in our healthcare system.

The ACS writes:

Cancer death rates among African Americans have been steadily decreasing since 1991. However, the numbers are still much higher than in whites. According to the report, cancer death rates in 2005 were 33% higher in African-American men and 16% higher in African-American women than in white men and women, respectively. Still, that gap is narrowing: in 2003, rates were 35% higher in African-American men and 18% in African-American women compared to whites. 

For all cancer types, African Americans are far more likely than whites to be diagnosed in advanced stages of disease, when the cancer is less treatable. African Americans are also less likely than whites to survive 5 years after a diagnosis, regardless of cancer type and stage of diagnosis, the report found.

The stats may seem startling because this issue is not often brought up in mainstream health news. You can read the ACS release (which gives a nice summary) or check out their full report.

Obviously, the reasons behind these disparities are complex. Share your thoughts; what do you think is contributing to the disparities?


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