Discrimination Takes Toll on Black Cancer Survivors’ Health

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FILE - This undated fluorescence-colored microscope image made available by the National Institutes of Health in September 2016 shows a culture of human breast cancer cells. A study discussed at the 2022 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology suggests some low-risk breast cancer patients can omit radiation after lumpectomy. (Ewa Krawczyk/National Cancer Institute via AP)
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Researchers from the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center have found a connection between discrimination experienced by Black individuals and increased health issues, particularly for cancer survivors.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer, evaluated 2,232 Black cancer survivors within five years of their diagnoses who were no longer undergoing treatment. Participants were part of the Detroit Research on Cancer Survivors (ROCS), the largest U.S. study of Black cancer survivors. The researchers surveyed participants on aging-related diseases, lifestyle maintenance and significant discrimination events in areas such as employment, education, medical care and housing.

Results revealed that the majority of survivors were classified as either prefrail (42.7%) or frail (32.9%), with only 24.4% having few or no health difficulties. A notable 63.2% reported experiencing major discrimination, with an average of 2.4 types of discrimination. This study underscores the potential long-term health effects of discrimination on Black cancer survivors.


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