telomeres, shortening, cancer, Gynecologic Cancers, Black Women, Death Rates

Early Death Rates High For Black Women With Gynecologic Cancers

The comprehensive study shows 4.7% of women experienced early death, but rates varied dramatically for Black women across gynecologic cancers.

A comprehensive study led by Dr. Matthew W. Lee of the University of Southern California and a group of colleagues has unveiled disparities in early death rates among women with gynecologic cancers, with Black women facing significantly higher risks.

The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, defined early death as mortality within two months of diagnosis, analyzing data from over 461,000 women between 2000 and 2020. Overall, 4.7% of women experienced early death, with rates varying dramatically across cancer types: 10.5% for tubo-ovarian cancer, 5.5% for vaginal cancer, 2.9% for cervical cancer, 2.5% for uterine cancer, and 2.4% for vulvar cancer. Racial disparities were particularly stark. For tubo-ovarian cancer, the early death rate was 14.5% among Black women compared to 6.4% among Asian women. Similar patterns emerged for uterine cancer (4.9% for Black women vs. 1.6% for Asian women) and cervical cancer (3.8% for Black women vs. 1.8% for Hispanic women).

“Studies have repeatedly shown that disparities have persisted throughout the last 2 decades in diagnosis, treatment, and survival among cases of uterine, tubo-ovarian and cervical cancers,” Dr. Lee and his colleagues noted, according to Healio. They attributed these disparities to a complex interplay of factors, including healthcare access, socioeconomic conditions, and potential biological differences.

The comprehensive study also revealed some improvements over time. From 2000-2002 to 2018-2020, early death rates for tubo-ovarian cancer decreased across all racial groups: from 17.4% to 11.8% for Black women, 12.3% to 9.5% for white women, 8.9% to 6.3% for Hispanic women, and 7.4% to 5.2% for Asian women.

Overall findings revealed that approximately 5% of women diagnosed with gynecologic cancers succumbed to their illness within a mere 60 days of receiving their diagnosis. However, significant gaps persist. The researchers emphasized that these findings “further indicate a pervasive inequality in overall survival that extends to early death.” They called for further investigation into the root causes of these disparities, stressing the urgent need for targeted interventions to address these racial and ethnic inequalities in gynecologic cancer outcomes.

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