Researchers agree that the causes of these inequalities are complex and far reaching. No single factor (such as education or income) can fully explain why the gap is so large. What they do know is more African American women live below the poverty line, are uninsured and have less education than other groups. They also have less access to medical care and healthful foods, like fruits and vegetables.
Furthermore, if African American women are diagnosed with cancer, they're less likely to receive proper or even adequate care. Another concern: Scientists believe African American women are predisposed to developing certain forms of cancer, as well as more aggressive tumors (particularly in the breast and lung).
African American women have a higher risk of developing the following four cancers than any other female ethnic group in the US:
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death among African American women.
According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of cervical cancer is 32 percent higher in African American women than for white women. They're also twice as likely to die from the disease.
Lung cancer kills more African Americans than any other type of cancer. The good news is that the death rate is rising more slowly than in the past.
The survival rate of African American women from colon or rectal cancer is beginning to improve, but incidence remains high. An estimated 7,120 African Americans will die from the disease in 2009.
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