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Study quantifies racial disparities in cancer mortality rates between blacks and whites
Date:3/20/2009

African Americans have a shorter life expectancy than whites, and cancer plays a major role in this disparity. African Americans are more prone to get cancer; they tend to present at a later, deadlier stage; and they have poorer survival rates after diagnosis.

But to what extent are each of these three factors responsible for the disparity in cancer mortality? A new UCLA study, published in Journal of General Internal Medicine Feb. 18, answers that question, finding that for most types of cancer, the disparity in mortality is almost entirely due to the fact that African Americans are more likely to get cancer in the first place. Their stage at presentation and survival after diagnosis play a much smaller role.

Overall, African American men live 1.47 fewer years than white men, and African American women 0.91 fewer years than white women, due to all cancers combined. The results spotlight the need for greater prevention efforts aimed at African Americans.

The study is available online at www.springerlink.com/content/u3u072071t08xl1u/fulltext.html.

This is the first time that researchers have quantified the role that disparities in cancer incidence, stage at diagnosis and survival after cancer plays in African Americans' shorter life expectancy, according to lead author Dr. Mitchell D. Wong, associate professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Putting a number on it is very informative, because when you look at the figures, you see that the reason their mortality is worse is almost entirely due to the fact that blacks are more likely to get cancer," Wong said. "This highlights the importance of prevention it's where most of the efforts should be."

A notable exception to this pattern was breast cancer. While white women are more likely to get breast cancer than African American women, the dis
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Contact: Enrique Rivero
erivero@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2273
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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