LOS ANGELES -- Minority individuals are much more likely to develop and die from cancer than the general U.S. population. Previous research points to lack of health insurance, poverty, language and cultural barriers, and inadequate access to early detection services and good medical care as causes. Research reported today at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) suggests that genetics, in addition to socioeconomic status, are important factors accounting for the disparity of cancer incidence and mortality between African-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians.
Exploring New Measures of Socio-Demographic Factors Associated with Later Stage of Cancer Diagnosis: Abstract 795
A survey of stomach and kidney cancer patients in Los Angeles revealed that those who were diagnosed in a late stage of disease when cancer is harder to treat successfully were likely to be older, living in an unsafe neighborhood and traveling at least 45 minutes to get to the doctor.
Researchers at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine cite two general types of personal risk factors associated with late cancer diagnosis: socio-economic, or cultural, factors related to knowledge about the health care system and difficulties accessing it; and individuals' failure to give priority to medical care, despite having access to it.
While minorities have been shown to have higher rates of dying from cancer, it hasn't always been clear why, said Ann Hamilton, Ph.D., assistant professor of preventive medicine at USC. Using proportions of minorities in census tracts or income and education statistics hasn't been totally effective in identifying subgroups at higher risk.
Hamilton and USC colleague Myles Cockburn mailed a questionnaire to patients diagnosed with stomach and kidney cancer between 2000 and 2001 in Los Angeles County, which has a large Hispanic population. It asked about,
Contact: Staci Vernick Goldberg
American Association for Cancer Research