Life-Threatening Disparities: The Treatment of Black and White Cancer Patients


  • The work reported here was supported by the following grants and awards to the authors: National Cancer Institute (NCI): U01CA114583 & 1U54CA154606-01 (Albrecht, Penner, & Eggly); NCI: R03 CA 130588 (Eggly); NCI: R01 CA 139014 & R01 CA 119202 (Griggs); National Institute of Child Health and Development: 1R21HD050445001A1, SPSSI Sages Award (Penner); NCI: 1R01CA152425-0 (Orom & Underwood); NCI: 1U54CA153598-01, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Harold Amos Award; AUA Foundation/Astellas Award (Underwood).

Louis A. Penner, 4100 John R, 1026 Harper Professional Building, Karmanos Cancer Center, Detroit, MI 48201 [e-mail:].


Cancer mortality and survival rates are much poorer for Black patients than for White patients. We argue that Black–White treatment disparities are a major reason for these disparities. We examine three specific kinds of Black–White treatment disparities: disparities in information exchange in oncology interactions, disparities in the treatment of breast cancer, and disparities in the treatment of clinically localized prostate cancer. In the final section, we discuss possible causes of these disparities, with a primary focus on communication within medical interactions and the role that race-related attitudes and beliefs may play in the quality of communication in these interactions.