The Raghavan Article Reviewed
Understanding Racial Disparities in Cancer Care
JEAN G. FORD, MD
Department of Epidemiology
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
April 1, 2007
Groups defined by self-identified race or ethnicity (SIRE) show substantial within-group variation in genetic admixture. Similarly, between-group differences have been reported in the frequency of functional polymorphisms known to influence cancer initiation and progression. However, the potential contribution of between-group differences in allele frequencies to differences in cancer incidence is incompletely understood.
Studies of the complex and critical contribution of epigenetic changes are in their infancy. As new tools become available, it will be increasingly possible (and necessary) to design studies that integrate data on biologic and environmental factors, including social exposures. As suggested by Raghavan, such transdisciplinary approaches are essential to understanding the nature and magnitude of the effects of biologic differences on cancer incidence and mortality, and facilitating multilevel analyses to separate individual-level risk factors from the effects of contextual factors, as determinants of racial/ethnic disparities.
Jean G. Ford, MD
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