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Last Updated: 09/21/21

Cancer Health Disparities

NCI defines cancer health disparities as adverse differences between certain population groups in a wide range of cancer measures including incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, survivorship and quality of life after cancer treatment, burden of cancer or related health conditions, screening rates, and stage at diagnosis. Cancer health disparities are often considered in the context of race and ethnicity; however, other population groups experience disparities as well. These population groups may be defined by age, disability, gender and sexual identity, geographic location, income, education, and other characteristics.

Complex and interrelated factors contribute to the observed cancer disparities, including unequal access to healthcare, cultural barriers, environmental disadvantage, differences in diet and lifestyle, ancestry-related risk factors, persistent co-morbidities, and chronic stress exposure due to discrimination and social isolation. An increasing number of studies demonstrate that even when socioeconomic and access to care factors are accounted for, incidence and mortality gaps persist between racial/ethnic populations for some cancer types, suggesting a role for biological contributors. Some of the most notable examples of disparities linked to biological differences include triple-negative breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers in African American and people of other racial/ethnic groups. Advances in genomics and other molecular technologies are improving our understanding of how biological differences among population groups contribute to health disparities and how biological factors interact with other potentially relevant factors, such as diet and the environment.

In 2018, the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) partnered with the Translational Research Program (TRP) to establish a P20 funding opportunity that supports development of translational research programs focused on investigating cancer health disparities. It is the expectation that the P20 grants supported by this funding opportunity will expand into comprehensive translational research programs focused on addressing cancer health disparities and become competitive to apply for a full SPORE (P50) at the end of the program period. Since its inception of the program, CRCHD has supported twelve P20 planning grants investigating a wide range of cancer sites across a number of diverse population groups.

   Leukemia

   Breast & Gastrointestinal

   Prostate

   Gastrointestinal & Lung

   Gastrointestinal

   Breast

   Head and Neck & Gastrointestinal

   Endometrial & Ovarian

   Breast

   Gastrointestinal

   Lung

   Lung