Monday, July 17, 2006 (Reuters Health)—The racial gap in endometrial cancer survival has begun to narrow, but black women are still more likely to die from the disease than are white women, according to a new analysis of U.S. cancer data.

While black women are less likely as whites to develop cancer of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, they are more likely than white women to die from the disease, Dr. Linda S. Cook from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada and colleagues note.

Mortality rates from endometrial cancer for both blacks and whites have fallen over the past 25 years, they add. To determine whether the difference in cancer survival between blacks and whites had also declined, Cook and her team looked at data for all U.S. women diagnosed with endometrial cancer between 1977 and 1996, including 45,261 whites and 1,986 blacks.

They divided women into six groups based on birth year and estimated their relative survival. The oldest group consisted of women born between 1880 and 1899, while women in the youngest group were born between 1940 and 1956.

Five-year survival was more common among younger women, as well as those diagnosed more recently, researchers found. During the study period, five-year survival rose over successive age groups from 29% to 79% among black women and from 63% to 95% among white women. Racial differences in survival were smaller among younger women than among older women. Absolute improvements in survival were seen for all women, but the improvements were greater for black women than for white women.

“Substantial absolute improvements in 5-year relative survival were noted for black women over successive birth cohorts beyond those experienced by white women,” Cook and her team write in the July issue of Epidemiology.

“Nonetheless, a disparity in survival between white and black women remains, and the basis for this disparity continues to be elusive.”