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A Letter to the Editor

Re “Cancer Researchers Begin Large Long-Term Study of Black Women” (news article, June 8):

In order to identify the factors contributing to the disparate cancer outcomes in Black women, the American Cancer Society’s new 30-year study aims to enroll over 100,000 women who will be followed with biannual questionnaires. However, there are no interventions, no health care and no education provided as part of the study.

We already know that lack of access to health care, disparate application of evidence-based care (regardless of cancer stage and type), lack of access to comprehensive cancer centers, as well as inherent biases and racism within the health care system are key drivers of these disparities. A patient’s ZIP code is more determinative of outcomes than genetics.

We’ve known this for decades, and yet little has been done to address these issues. The irony is that as treatments improve, the disparities worsen.

There is nothing inherent in being Black that accounts for health care disparities. Despite what we already know, we keep trying to identify things that Black women must be doing or how they are living that are to blame.

It’s past time that we address the real obstacles to care that Black women face. We need real solutions now, and we don’t have another 30 years to figure it out.

Linda Goler Blount
Sharon Malone
Ms. Blount is an epidemiologist and president of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. Dr. Malone is an obstetrician-gynecologist and the author of “Grown Woman Talk: Your Guide to Getting and Staying Healthy.