The National Cancer Institute announced funding for the largest study of African American cancer survivors to elucidate the disproportionately high rates and mortality from cancer in this population. The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Rochester Hills, Michigan, and Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, will execute the research.1

The researchers will review data from 5560 African American survivors of cancer to determine what factors impact disease progression, recurrence, mortality, and quality of life in this patient population.

“Disparities in cancer survivorship that disproportionately burden African Americans are the product of the complex interactions occurring among genetic and biological factors and social, behavior and environmental factors,” said Ann G. Schwartz, PhD, MPH, professor and deputy center director at Karmanos, and a co-lead investigator on the study.

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This research will focus on the 4 most common cancers: lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal. Survival rates in each of these cancers are worse in African American than in whites. In addition, most studies lack sufficient African American participants to examine contributing factors for the lower survival rates.

In addition to those factors that may affect survival, such as genetics, social structure, poverty, type of therapy, and behaviors related to quality of life, this research will include 2780 family members to elucidate how a cancer diagnosis affects the emotional, physical, and financial well-being of patients’ families.

“This project will provide an infrastructure for designing and conducting an array of studies to reduce disparities and will ultimately lead to interventions focused on improving outcomes in African American cancer survivors across the United States,” explained Terrance Albrecht, PhD, professor and associate director for population sciences at Wayne State, and co-lead investigator.

This research is funded by a 5-year, $9 million grant (grant number CA199240).


1. Wayne State University and Karmanos Cancer Institute. Largest study of factors affecting African-Americans with cancer announced in Detroit.–lso022717.php. Eureka Alert website. Published February 27, 2017. Accessed March 9, 2017.