Study: African-Americans with equal care more likely to die of some cancers

Sadly, disparities in both care and outcomes continue to plague ethnic minorities in the U.S. The latest study to confirm this, which appears this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that African-Americans are less likely than whites to survive some cancers, even when they receive equal care.

The thing is, at least some of these differences may have little to do with access to care or quality of treatment. The study, which may suggest that biological factors are at work in at least some outcome disparities, involved almost 20,000 cancer patients nationwide.

The study found that the gap in survival between blacks and whites disappears completely for lung, colon and several other cancers when both ethnic groups get the same care as part of federally-funded clinical trials. However, the two groups still had different outcomes for prostate, breast and ovarian cancer.

Researchers said that with access to care factored out as a cause of the disparity, they're forced to conclude that there may be hereditary and genetic factors behind the difference in mortality rates.

The notion that genetic differences can impact treatment isn't new to cancer science. For example, research has already demonstrated that genetic variations can make some therapies more effective or less toxic for some patients than others.

To find out more about the study:
- read this Washington Post article

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