Why do Black women have the highest death rate for most cancers? A massive study in underway

The Voices of Black Women aims to enroll 100,000 participants.

Gillian Neff and Rose Shannon

May 11, 2024, 2:14 PM

Updated 8 days ago

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Black women continue to have the highest death rate of any racial or ethnic group for most cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.
Those statistics show that one in three Black men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. One in six Black women will die from cancer. Doctors say the disparity is glaring.
"Why, stage for stage, do black women do worse with breast cancer and they die more frequently? Not only breast cancer, we look at gastric cancer. Black women are twice as likely to get gastric cancer – but even more than twice as likely to die from gastric cancer. We don't know, is it a genetic factor?" Dr. Susan Boolbol, chief of breast surgical oncology and breast program at Nuvance Health.
Factors that may influence cancer disparities include structural racism, socioeconomic status, access to care, other health conditions and mistrust in the medical system.
The American Cancer Society recently started what it describes as a massive study to get to the root of the disparity. The goal is for researchers to figure out why Black women have such high rates and how to intervene.
The Voices of Black Women aims to enroll 100,000 participants. Women will fill out a health and lifestyle survey. Surveys to update and or collect new information will be sent out twice a year for the next 20 to 30 years.
"We need to really get at what those multilevel drivers are...to help us uncover the different factors that may be related to how we can improve the health of Black women for future generations, " says Alpa Patel, of the American Cancer Society.


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