Uterine cancer is on the rise, especially in black women
Clarke’s research found that black women accounted for just under 10% of the 208,587 cases of uterine cancer diagnosed in the United States between 2000 and 2017, but they accounted for nearly 18 percent of the nearly 16,797 deaths. deaths from uterine cancer during that period, Dr. Clarke’s study found.
Dr. Clarke reports that the death rate from uterine cancer in black women is 31.4 per 100,000 women age 40 and older, compared with 15.2 per 100,000 white women in the same age group. (The comparable mortality rate for Asian-American women is 9 per 100,000 and for Hispanics it is 12.3 per 100,000.)
That makes uterine cancer all the more exceptional, as progress has been made to close the racial gap in mortality from most cancers over the past two decades. Another report by the National Cancer Institute, published in the May issue of JAMA Oncology, found that overall, Cancer death rates have decreased steadily among black Americans from 1999 to 2019, although they continued to be higher than those of other racial and ethnic groups.
The reasons for the increase in uterine cancer cases are still not well understood. The most common form, endometrial cancer, is associated with higher estrogen exposure with obesity, and obesity rates are increasing in the United States.
But rates of non-endometrial cancer are also increasing, and it’s not linked to excess weight. Dr. Clarke’s research shows that black women are more likely to get this aggressive form of uterine cancer. They are less likely to be diagnosed early in the course of the disease, and their survival rates are lower regardless of when they were diagnosed and what type of cancer they had.
“At each stage of diagnosis, there are different outcomes,” says Dr. Karen Knudsen, executive director of the American Cancer Society. “Do they have access to the same quality of cancer care?” She called for more research into the factors driving the trend.