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Systemic inequality behind staggering racial gap in cancer survival rates

A Friday piece in the New York Times explores the staggering gap in cancer survival rates between black women and white women, a disparity in health outcomes that is directly related to racism in the American healthcare system.

As Tara Parker-Pope reports at the Times, black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women -- and die sooner. According to available data, black women diagnosed with breast cancer will die three years sooner than white women who receive a similar diagnosis. And "some research suggests that institutions providing mammograms mainly to black patients miss as many as half of breast cancers compared with the expected detection rates at academic hospitals," according to the Times.

The reasons behind the racial divide in cancer survival rates are complex, but physicians and public health advocates working to bridge the gap point to longstanding economic disparities that disproportionately impact black women and a legacy of racial discrimination within the American medical establishment as among the most entrenched causes of the disparity.

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