Study reveals cancer diagnosis more deadly in blacks
A study on deaths among African Americans diagnosed with cancer gives a grim picture of survival, according to researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.
One of the nation’s first studies to track the ratio of deaths based on the incidence of specific cancers, the report in the June issue of the journal Cancer yields a powerful measure of the scope of the cancer problem among men and women, whites and blacks.
Researchers examined the eight public-health regions in South Carolina for the number of cancers and cancer deaths from 2001 - 05 and then compared these numbers to corresponding national rates.
Although the study was done in South Carolina, it could be replicated in other states or regions by using cancer incidence and death data, said Dr. James Hebert, the study’s lead author and a professor in the Arnold School.
Comparing and mapping race- and sex-specific cancer “mortality-to-incidence ratios” (MIR) provide a powerful method to observe the scope of the cancer problem, he said.
“We already knew that South Carolina is a dramatic example of health disparities,” said Hebert, director of the Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program in South Carolina. “This study is alarming. It shows health disparities in a visual, graphic way in geographic spaces.”
African Americans had much higher mortality rates than whites even when a specific cancer had a lower incidence rate, Hebert said.
For example, S.C. data reveal that African Americans smoke less than whites. But statistics on oral cancer show that African Americans have a higher MIR in seven of the state’s regions.
“Comparing this data to national MIR rates shows the severity of the problem,” said Hebert.