Mo. clos­ing racial gap in new can­cer cases

The Covington News - - Health -

ST. LOUIS - Blacks in Mis­souri are clos­ing the racial gap for newly di­ag­nosed can­cers, but their progress re­duc­ing can­cer mor­tal­ity is slower, a new re­port found.

An anal­y­sis of data from the Mis­souri Depart­ment of Health and state Can­cer Reg­istry found the rate of newly di­ag­nosed can­cers is roughly equal be­tween blacks and whites in Mis­souri. Only a decade ago, it was higher for blacks.

In 1996, blacks in the state had an 18 per­cent higher rate of new can­cer di­ag­noses than whites. By 2003, the dis­par­ity had shrunk to 6 per­cent.

“ If the trend con­tin­ues, we ex­pect the dif­fer­ence in new di­ag­no­sis for blacks and whites will dis­ap­pear by 2006,” said Mario Schoot­man, lead au­thor of the re­port that will be pub­lished early next year in the jour­nal Mis­souri Medicine.

The 2006 data are not yet avail­able for anal­y­sis, said Schoot­man, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of epi­demi­ol­ogy and medicine at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity School of Medicine, and a leader at the Site­man Can­cer Cen­ter.

He at­trib­uted the lower rates of new can­cers to an over­all de­cline in cig­a­rette smok­ing and more can­cer screen­ings.

Sherri Ho­man, a pub­lic health epi­demi­ol­o­gist, said the Mis­souri De­part- ment of Health is pleased with the progress that has occurred, while still rec­og­niz­ing “ there’s work to be done, par­tic­u­larly with breast and col­orec­tal can­cer.”

She said the Depart­ment of Health strongly en­cour­ages can­cer screen­ings, and will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the dis­par­i­ties and pro­mote screen­ing and prompt treat­ment.

Al­though blacks in Mis­souri have re­duced their can­cer death rate, it is ex­pected to re­main higher than that of whites for some time, Schoot­man said.

In 1990, the can­cer death rate for blacks was 48 per­cent higher than that of whites. By 2005, it had slipped to 28 per­cent higher.

But Schoot­man said it will take an­other 15 to 20 years be­fore the dis­par­ity truly nar­rows.

While his anal­y­sis did not look at causes, he said other stud­ies have found that blacks have less ac­cess to care, are not tak­ing ad­van­tage of fur­ther screen­ings and avail­able treat­ment, are not tak­ing steps to live more health­fully, or of­ten have more ag­gres­sive tu­mors.

The anal­y­sis of Mis­souri data from 1990 to 2005 also found that:

• Blacks were more likely to be screened for col­orec­tal can­cer than whites, but their death rate from this can­cer was 42 per­cent higher.

• Black women had a 9 per­cent lower in­ci­dence of breast can­cer than did white women but a 46 per­cent higher breast can­cer death rate.

• Black men had a 116 per­cent higher rate of mor­tal­ity from prostate can­cer than did white men.

• Black men had a 15 per­cent higher death rate from lung can­cer than did white men. On the Net: Can­cer in Mis­souri: http:// www. dhss. mo. gov/ Cancer­inMis­souri/ CancerDis­par­i­tyRe­port. pdf

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