Increasing Cancer Burden Projected for Ethnic Minorities

Need for improved understanding of risk factors, progression, and outcomes in U.S. subpopulations

THURSDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Consideration of genetic, ethnic, biologic, and sociological factors is necessary to appropriately diagnose and treat cancer in all U.S. subpopulations, according to the President's Cancer Panel 2009 to 2010 report published April 28.

LaSalle Leffall, M.D., of the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues evaluated the factors that contribute to the unequal cancer burden in the different U.S. subpopulations. Findings and recommendations were based on expert testimony.

The panel projects that cancer incidence among minority populations is set to almost double by 2030 and increase by 31 percent among non-Hispanic whites. Minorities are disproportionately affected by certain cancers, and they may have later diagnosis and lower survival rates. Current knowledge of cancer risks, progression, and outcomes are based on studies of non-Hispanic whites, and may not be applicable for individuals of other races. Although personalized medicine is an ultimate goal, until it becomes a reality, research should focus on identifying subpopulations at risk of disease based on genetic, biologic, sociocultural, and other factors. Future research into interactions between the variables, and biological markers of risk or prognosis, will help health care providers treat patients more effectively.

"The President's Cancer Panel believes several fundamental issues must be addressed to move science, the health care community, and the nation toward effective cancer education and services across the cancer continuum that reach beyond traditional ideas of race, ethnicity, and culture to embrace and honor our true similarities, differences, and humanity," the authors write.

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