Feb 6 Drops in smoking may have helped drive
cancer death rates down among black men in the United States
during the last decade, but they are still more likely to die of
cancer than whites, according to a U.S. study.
"I think we see some really good news, but then we also see
some trends that are going in the wrong direction," said Carol
DeSantis, the study's lead author from the American Cancer
Society in Atlanta.
Using information from several databases, DeSantis and her
team analyzed information on the number of cancers diagnosed and
the number of cancer deaths reported across the United States
between 1990 and 2009.
The biennial analysis found that improvements in cancer
treatments and care have avoided nearly 200,000 cancer deaths in
blacks since 1990.
But cancer death rates for black are still higher than
whites, according to DeSantis and her colleagues, who published
their findings in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Between 2005 and 2009, the researchers found about 288 black
men died from cancer out of every 100,000, compared to about217
white men. Among women, those numbers were about 181 blacks per
100,000, and 155 whites per 100,000.
The gap between cancer death rates narrowed the most between
black and white men during the last decade. Over that time, the
cancer death rate for black men fell by 2.4 percent every year,
compared to 1.7 percent for white men.
"That's primarily driven by declines in lung cancer, which
is driven by more black men stopping smoking than white men,"
For women, however, death rates fell equally between blacks
and whites over the last decade at about 1.5 percent.
Black women are also 16 percent more likely to die from
cancer even though they are 6 percent less likely to get cancer,
the researchers said.
"Primarily, the reason for the lower incidence rate is that
(blacks) are at a lower risk of lung and breast cancer... Then
we see if you're diagnosed with the cancer you're more likely to
die from the disease, and that's truly an access to care issue,"
Experts said the new numbers show that healthcare
professionals and public health officials still need to make an
effort to reach out to underserved populations.
"Unfortunately, as treatments improve and newer treatments
are coming out, we will see a widening disparity if people don't
have equal access," said DeSantis.
(Reporting from New York by Andrew Seaman at Reuters Health;
editing by Elaine Lies)