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The United States urgently needs to expand research and improve understanding of cancer among minority populations, according to a special report issued Thursday by the President’s Cancer Panel. While minorities currently account for roughly one-third of the U.S. population, they are expected to become the collective majority by the year 2050, according to the report. The panel noted that “minority and other underserved populations are disproportionately affected by certain cancers, are often diagnosed at later stages of disease, and frequently have lower rates of survival.”

What’s more, the incidence of cancer among minority populations is projected to nearly double over the next 20 years. “Most of what we know about cancer is based on studies of non-Hispanic white people, but by the middle of the century that group will be only 38% of the population,” said panel member Margaret L. Kripke, a professor emerita of immunology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “We need more data on cancer among minority populations so that we can begin to implement specific preventive measures.”

The report recommends more research into sociological factors that affect minorities. The panel concluded that disparities in cancer care and research will ultimately be eliminated only by addressing the social factors involved in poor health outcomes, such as poverty, substandard housing, lower educational status and inadequate access to quality health care.

For additional information you can log on to the National Cancer Institute at http://www.cancer.gov.

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