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Major new center at UIC to study racial/ethnic disparities in health

A major new center established today at the University of Illinois at Chicago will study why mortality rates for breast and other cancers are so much higher in African-Americans and Hispanics than in Caucasians. The initial focus is on breast cancer, a disease that particularly reflects this racial and ethnic disparity.

Under a $7.275 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, the UIC Center for Population Health and Health Disparities will explore how a range of individual and socio-ecological factors affects prognosis and outcome for breast cancer victims.

The UIC center is one of eight across the country receiving a total of $60.5 million over the next five years to study racial and ethnic disparities in health. Claude Allen, deputy secretary of health and human services, announced the awards this morning at the UIC College of Medicine.

According to the National Cancer Institute's latest annual report on cancer published last week, while death rates for breast cancer in white women fell 2.5 percent during the 1990s, for black women the drop was only 1 percent.

"Racial and ethnic disparities in the delivery of, access to and benefits from health care have been a longstanding issue," said Richard Warnecke, director of the center, associate director for cancer control and population science at the UIC Cancer Center and professor of epidemiology in the UIC School of Public Health.

"For breast cancer, in particular, that gap is widening, and we need to understand why so that we can design better interventions."

Warnecke and his colleagues in the community and at UIC will study how a woman's neighborhood, social network (family, friends and other community contacts) and psychological profile (including issues of faith and fear) come into play when breast cancer is suspected.

"All these individual, demographic and sociocultural factors determine what kind of health care information a woman receives, how sh
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Contact: Sharon Butler
sbutler@uic.edu
312-355-2522
University of Illinois at Chicago
16-Sep-2003


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