Longtime cancer disparities between African-Americans and whites - with blacks having a sharply higher mortality rate - have narrowed significantly over the past several years and disappeared entirely for a few age groups, according to a new study by the American Cancer Society.
African-Americans still have the highest death rate and the lowest survival rate of any racial or ethnic group for most cancers. But the report noted that the overall cancer death rate has been dropping faster in blacks than in whites because of bigger declines for three of the four most common cancers - lung, prostate and colorectal.
The result: The "excess risk" of cancer death in blacks, compared with whites, fell from 47 percent in 1990 to 19 percent in 2016 for men and from 19 percent to 13 percent for women, according to the study. For men under 50 and women over 70, the gap has nearly been closed, the study showed.
"The message is progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go," said Len Lichtenfeld, interim chief medical officer for the cancer society.
The biggest factor in narrowing the gap has been more-rapid decreases in smoking and lung cancer over the past four decades in blacks than in whites, he said.