Despite years of improvements in cancer care, the disease still kills disproportionately black people, according to three cautionary reports from a study funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. . UU
The CDC's findings on ovarian, breast, and colon cancer survival, published in the journal Cancer, come at a time when reports show that overall cancer death rates have decreased every year since 1999 in I know. UU
It is important that people, regardless of their race, be proactive in their own health care, said Dr. Sherri Stewart of the CDC, who is also the author of one of the reports, in a statement to ABC News. This means consulting routine cancer screening schedules, obtaining information on warning signs and symptoms and advocating for access to primary care.
"Symptoms that signal the presence of the disease are almost always present," he said of ovarian cancer. "If those symptoms are recognized early, women are more likely to have a stage I or II diagnosis, leading to earlier treatment and better survival."
Using large amounts of data from 80% of the US UU., Some of the largest studies conducted in the USA. UU On cancer survival in specific populations, the researchers compared the number of black patients who survived at least five years after a cancer diagnosis to the number of white patients who survived in the same period.
They found that at least 10 percent fewer black patients lived more than five years after being diagnosed with breast, colon or ovarian cancer compared to white patients.
According to the CDC, these three types of cancer are among the top 10 causes of cancer deaths in the United States. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women and colon cancer is the third leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women.
Even at the one-year mark after diagnosis, the researchers reported that blacks and whites experienced unequal survival rates.
In fact, this finding was maintained during the full nine years of the study, in each period measured in past survival: one, three and five years.
A troubling situation found in the research was that more black people were diagnosed in later stages of the three cancers studied, and people diagnosed with more advanced stage cancers generally have worse results. But, even with the early stages of cancer diagnoses, fewer black people survived five years.
The researchers did not measure the specific causes of the disparity. However, they hypothesized that differences in cancer screening among these groups may play a role.
Dr. Jacqueline Miller, one of the authors of the report on breast cancer survival rates, is a general surgeon who has been with the CDC for more than a decade. She was inspired to do this work because she saw in her practice many women from marginalized populations who did not have health insurance and, therefore, did not have good access to care.
"Although we know about disparities, there is still a big gap that needs to be narrowed, they need equal attention," Miller said. "They need to be diagnosed on time, receive treatment on time and complete the treatment."
The researchers added that the difference in the diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer, for which there is no standard evaluation, may mean that there are systemic differences in access to doctors or medical treatment for black women. Early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer make a big difference.
"Many women mistakenly believe that the Pap test can detect ovarian cancer, but it is not," Stewart said. "Recognizing the early symptoms of ovarian cancer and seeking timely care can help detect cancer at an earlier stage, where treatment is likely to be more effective. Symptoms, such as abdominal and back pain, fullness sensation quickly after eating and frequent urination, they are often present. "
She said that education specifically for black women about symptoms can help with early detection and, in turn, with better survival rates.
Other possible factors in why black patients tended to have worse overall cancer survival rates could include racial differences in treatment follow-up, disease management, health beliefs, and perhaps the biology of some cancers .
"We know there are biological differences in tumors, the socioeconomic status that affects access to care, but there is a big gap," Miller said. "The key is to get the right treatment for the right woman at the right time."