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'Urgent Need' for Research on Cancer Among Minorities: U.S. Report
Date:4/28/2011

By Madonna Behen
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- The United States urgently needs to expand research and improve understanding of cancer among minority populations, according to a special report issued Thursday by the President's Cancer Panel.

While minorities currently account for roughly one-third of the U.S. population, they are expected to become the collective majority by the year 2050, according to the report.

The panel noted that "minority and other underserved populations are disproportionately affected by certain cancers, are often diagnosed at later stages of disease, and frequently have lower rates of survival."

What's more, the incidence of cancer among minority populations is projected to nearly double over the next 20 years.

"Most of what we know about cancer is based on studies of non-Hispanic white people, but by the middle of the century that group will be only 38 percent of the population," said panel member Margaret L. Kripke, a professor emerita of immunology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "We need more data on cancer among minority populations so that we can begin to implement specific preventive measures."

The report recommends more research into sociological factors that may explain disparities in cancer mortality among minorities.

"There have been a lot of studies in recent years trying to understand genetic differences associated with cancer susceptibility, but there are also cultural factors that can affect cancer mortality," said Kripke. "In some cultures, people are so afraid of a cancer diagnosis that they don't seek treatment until it's very late."

Current cancer screening guidelines should be evaluated, the panel noted, "to determine their accuracy in assessing disease burden in diverse populations."

"One-size-fits-all screening guidelines don't work," Kripke said. "For example, the breas
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