Examining Factors Behind Racial Disparities In Breast, Colon Cancers

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The following summarizes articles about two cancer studies that examine racial disparities.

* Breast cancer: Researchers from the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center are expanding the Carolina Breast Cancer Study to examine why black women are more likely than white women to die from the disease, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

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As part of the study, researchers will examine subtypes of breast cancer, continuing on the findings from the larger study, which includes the largest breast cancer database in the U.S. Robert Millikan of UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health said that through 2012 researchers will enroll 1,000 black women who have newly diagnosed cases of invasive breast cancer into the larger study, more than doubling the number of black participants. Researchers will interview participants about breast cancer risk factors, take blood samples and review medical records related to cancer diagnosis and treatment (Raleigh News & Observer, 11/16).

* Colon cancer: Researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University will study whether doctors treat patients with similar conditions the same regardless of race or gender, with a specific focus on colon cancer, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Blacks are diagnosed with colon cancer and die from the disease at a higher rate than other ethnicities, according to the Times-Dispatch. Study leader Laura Siminoff -- associate director of the cancer prevention and control research program at VCU's Massey Cancer Center -- said the disparity could be because of health insurance status, access to the health system, a lack of knowledge of the signs of the disease, cultural barriers, reluctance to visit a doctor or other factors.

She noted that blacks also are diagnosed with colon cancer at later stages. As part of the study, actors posing as patients will visit physician offices participating in the study to track the care they received. Siminoff said, "We are not really looking for discrimination per se. Just a lot of different ways people unconsciously respond to and communicate with people that may make diagnosing a patient more or less difficult." The study is being funding with a five-year, $2.89 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. A separate study, funded with a three-year $1.4 million NCI grant, will interview black patients recently diagnosed with colon cancer (Smith, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/15).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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