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Black Women Face Lower Cancer Survival Rates Despite Overall Decline in U.S.

Black Women Face Lower Cancer Survival Rates Despite Overall Decline in U.S.

The overall risk of dying from cancer in the United States has been steadily declining over the last few decades. However, Black women continue to face some of the lowest survival rates from the disease.

Despite being less likely to be diagnosed with cancer compared to white women, Black women are more likely to die from it within five years, according to the National Cancer Institute.

This disparity is particularly evident in breast cancer, which kills Black women at a rate 40% higher than white women, even though the rate of diagnosis is 4% lower.

Black women also face a higher risk of death from others. They are 60% more likely to die from cervical and nearly twice as likely to die from endometrial cancer compared to white women.

To investigate the reasons behind these disparities, the American Cancer Society launched a new study on Tuesday called VOICES of Black Women.

This study aims to enroll more than 100,000 Black women between the ages of 25 and 55 across the U.S., making it the largest study of its kind in the country.

Participants must be cancer-free upon enrolling in the study, which will follow them for 30 years. The study seeks to examine how their medical histories, lifestyle factors, and experiences of racism influence their risk of developing or dying from the disease.

“With few exceptions, Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancer, aggressive tumor types, and have higher cancer-specific mortality rates than other women,” said Dr. Lauren McCullough, co-principal investigator and visiting scientific director at the American Cancer Society.

Black women have historically been underrepresented in health research due to medical exploitation in the past. For instance, in the 19th century, Dr. James Marion Sims conducted experimental gynecological surgeries on Black women without anesthesia.

Other notable examples include the Tuskegee syphilis study from 1932 to 1972 and the unauthorized use of Henrietta Lacks’ its cells in key scientific research.

“We recognize that there has been historic mistrust in the Black community for several reasons,” said Dr. Alpa Patel, a co-principal investigator of the VOICES study and senior vice president of population science for the American Cancer Society.

Patel emphasized the importance of collaborating with Black women to design a study that is respectful and considerate of their experiences.


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