Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Despite drop in cancer death rates, docs worry about continued high numbers among Blacks

A new study indicates that, despite a drop, cancer deaths in Black people remain higher than those of every other category.

Lindsey Tanner's recent Associated Press story notes that the death rates among Blacks have steadily declined — as they have for all Americans for the past two decades — apparently because of lower smoking rates and advances in early detection and treatment.

But the continued high rates among Blacks remain a concern. 

Wayne Lawrence
Those rates, according to the AP article that quotes National Cancer Institute researcher Wayne Lawrence, who led the study published online in "JAMA Oncology," likely reflect "social and economic disparities including poverty, less access to care and mistrust of doctors.

Carla Williams, a Ph.D. and a Howard University expert in cancer-related health disparities, who had no role in the research, also was quote regarding the finding: "It's showing that we simply can't rely on medical care as a way to address and eliminate the disparities."

Tanner's article also says "an earlier report from the American Cancer Society found the racial gap was narrowing mostly because of a bigger decline" in smoking. The largest dips, it postulates, "were in lung cancer among Black men and stomach cancer in Black women."

The piece cites the following data: "Rates among Black people fell each year from 1999 to 2019, from 359 cancer deaths per 100,000 to 239 deaths per 100,000, according to the report."

The rates, however, are "almost double the lowest rate in Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders."
Carla Williams, Ph.D.

Cancer prevention expert Dr. Otis Brawley of Johns Hopkins University is quoted by the the story as saying, "Other data show Black Americans get worse cancer care than White people. That's in part because they're more likely to be treated at hospitals with overworked doctors and fewer resources, and less likely to have a college degree."

Why the emphasis on a college degree? Because, the AP story quotes Brawley again, "evidence suggests that people with college degrees are more likely to exercise, not be obese, and to seek medical care when they notice changes that could signal cancer."'

More information about racial inequities and disease can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten,  aimed at male caregivers.

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