African Americans suffer the highest number of cancer-related deaths in the United States even though overall cancer death rates have fallen for the community at large, according to a report from the American Cancer Society and reported by HealthDay News.

The report showed that, as recently as 2007, cancer deaths among black men were 32 percent higher than cancer mortality of white men. What’s more, the cancer death rate of black women was 16 percent higher compared with that of white women.

In addition, researchers also found that African Americans face less chance they’ll survive cancer compared with all other races and ethnicities. The race gap widened further for deaths among female breast cancer patients and for both men and women with colorectal cancer.

“While the factors behind these racial disparities are multifaceted, there is little doubt socioeconomic status plays a critical role,” said Otis W. Brawley, MD, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. “Black Americans are disproportionately represented in lower socioeconomic groups. For most cancers, the lower the socioeconomic status, the higher the risk.”

There were only a few areas in which African Americans did not fare worse than other groups. Apparently, the overall gap between blacks and whites in cancer deaths has narrowed slightly because of a decline in the rate of deaths among blacks from both lung and prostate cancers. And lung cancer rates for younger African Americans and whites are evened out.

In response to the report, some doctors acknowledged there’s “no easy answer” to explain the cancer death disparities.

What is answered by the numbers, doctors said, is that cancer death disparities should be further explored to see if the medical community can prevent any contributing factors. One factor, access to care, should be the most easy to remedy, docs said.

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