A doctor goes over a patient’s X-ray, screening for colon cancer.
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When it comes to cancer, there has been a significantly higher rate of related deaths among African Americans than among white Americans. One type of cancer for which blacks have a higher mortality rate, for example, is colon cancer. Much of this disparity correlates with socioeconomic issues such as discrepancies in income, education and access to health care. A new study, however, points to a significant narrowing of this racial health gap, Medical Daily reports.

The study—done by Eileen O’Keefe, a clinical professor of health and science at Boston University College of Health and Rehabilitation, and her colleagues—shows that from 2000 to 2010, the death rates of black Americans went down faster than those of their white counterparts. O’Keefe and her partners found that the difference in cancer-mortality rates between the two groups decreased by 14.6 percent (from 16.4 to 14 percent) in women and 31.1 percent (from 40.2 to 27.7 percent) in men during this period.

According to Medical Daily, the study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, showed that in 2010 the total annual cancer-related deaths per 1,000 Americans also showed a significant decrease: 1.7 for black women (a 16 percent drop in comparison with 2000), 1.5 for white women (14 percent lower), 2.6 among black men (a 29 percent decrease) and 2.1 among white men (an 18 percent drop).

It is believed, Medical Daily notes, that the narrowing gap could be due to the increased availability of good health care and better education regarding prevention.

But while the study shows an improvement, more work still needs to be done, O’Keefe warned in a press release. “Despite significant gains in overall cancer mortality over this time period, persistent cancer disparities by race exist,” the clinical professor noted. “Policy solutions that address access to and quality of the health care system are certainly important toward narrowing disparities, but cannot fully redress broader societal inequities at the core of racial and ethnic health disparities.” 

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Read more at Medical Daily.