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Racial disparities decline for cancer in Missouri
Date:9/24/2008

Sept. 23, 2008 -- Cancer death rates in the United States are highest among African Americans, but a new report shows that in Missouri the disparity in cancer incidence and death between African Americans and whites is declining. As a result, cancer incidence (the rate of newly diagnosed cases) between the races is equal, although the death rate will probably remain higher for African Americans for some time.

The report will be published in an upcoming issue of Missouri Medicine. The lead author is Mario Schootman, Ph.D., co-leader of the Prevention and Control Program at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

"A lot of effort has been made to reduce cancer racial disparity in Missouri," says Schootman, also chief of the Division of Health Behavior Research and associate professor of epidemiology and medicine. "But there is still work to be done, especially in decreasing cancer mortality. Ideally, cancer will become just another bump in the road an illness that people will be able to live with for many decades and keep under control."

The report shows that in 1996, the rate of new cancer cases was 18 percent higher for African-American Missourians but declined to six percent higher by 2003, the last year for which the data were analyzed. If this downward trend continues, the disparity in new cancer cases between African-American and white Missourians will have disappeared when 2006 data is analyzed, Schootman says.

On average, the overall Missouri cancer incidence rate decreased by 0.8 percent per year, possibly reflecting a drop in smoking rates and other preventive measures. The disparity in incidence between African Americans and whites might have arisen from such factors as differences in physical activity, weight, vitamin D deficiency, diabetes, diet and occupational exposure to pollutants, according to the report.

On the other hand, racial dis
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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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