NCI launches study of African-American cancer survivors

by SRA International on Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Excerpt from original article, "NCI launches study of African-American cancer survivors," posted on NIH News Releases, February 27, 2017.

The largest study to date of African-American cancer survivors in the United States is underway. The Detroit Research on Cancer Survivors (ROCS) study, which will include 5,560 cancer survivors, will support a broad research agenda looking at the major factors affecting cancer progression, recurrence, mortality, and quality of life among African-American cancer survivors. The effort is funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The grant, for $9 million over five years, has been awarded to Ann G. Schwartz, Ph.D., M.P.H., deputy center director, and Terrance Albrecht, Ph.D., associate director for Population Sciences of the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit. 

African Americans continue to experience disproportionately higher cancer incidence rates than other racial/ethnic groups in the United States for most cancer types. They are also more likely to be diagnosed with more advanced stage disease and experience higher cancer mortality rates than other groups. The Detroit ROCS study will focus on lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers—the four most common types of cancer — each of which is marked by poorer survival rates among African Americans than whites.

Multiple factors may contribute to poorer outcomes among African Americans with cancer, but most studies lack enough participants to adequately study these factors. The Detroit ROCS study will investigate the myriad factors that may affect cancer survival, including type of treatment, coexisting diseases, genetics, social structure, support, neighborhood context, poverty, stress, racial discrimination, literacy, quality of life, and behavioral factors such as smoking, alcohol use, diet, and physical activity. A unique aspect of this study is the inclusion of 2,780 family members to help researchers understand how a cancer diagnosis affects the mental, physical, and financial health of those providing care.

“This study is uniquely poised to investigate the major factors affecting African-American cancer survivors,” said Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., acting director of NCI. “Efforts like this will help us move toward bridging the gap of cancer disparities, ensuring that advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment reach all Americans.”

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