How Long Has This Been Goin’ On?

March 12th, 2009 | Sources: Am. Cancer Society, USA Today


The American Cancer Society has reported yet again that African-Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer than all other groups.

Cancer mortality in black men and women is 33% and 16% higher than in whites respectively, and these yawning gaps haven’t closed a bit since at least 1981, according to Ahmedin Jemal, a co-author of the report.

andwhenwillitend?A key reason for the disparity is that whites tend to get diagnosed at an earlier stage in the disease, when chances for a cure are higher.

But it’s also true that blacks are less likely to receive high-quality treatment, Peter Bach told USAToday.

The Sloan-Kettering oncologist had shown in 2004 that physicians treating black cancer patients were less likely to be cancer specialists and to have access to the latest diagnostic imaging facilities.

Blacks also tend to have lower educational levels, and that makes a big difference regardless of race. In the ACS study, cancer mortality for people with a high school education or less was twice as high as that for people who attended college.

Earlier studies have shown that cancer patients with low educational levels experience significantly longer delays between diagnosis and onset of treatment, as well.

And if that’s not enough, blacks tend to exercise less and are more likely to be obese than whites. These are both major risk factors for cancer. And they receive fewer colonoscopies and other cancer screening tests, and on and on and on.

“This study shows a real disparity in mortality between the haves and the have-nots in this country,” Jemal concluded.


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