African-American men with prostate cancer die at almost 2½ times the rate of white men in the United States. One explanation is that they receive unequal access to health care, but that doesn’t fully account for the disparity, according to Timothy Rebbeck, a professor of cancer epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He believes that there may be biological differences behind more aggressive cancers in men of African descent.

Rebbeck spoke at Cancer Disparities + Diversity in Life Sciences, held at the UMASS Club in Boston on Oct. 11, 2017. The event was part of HUBweek, which is sponsored by Harvard, MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, and The Boston Globe.

Rebbeck highlighted work by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute to gather data on more Americans to diversify research and improve health outcomes.

“We should have been doing this 20 years ago,” Rebbeck said, “but at least there are large efforts trying to find out how to make this happen now, so we should be optimistic about what can happen in the future.”

Read The Boston Globe article: Scientists aim to address racial and ethnic disparities in cancer research

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