. "2 The Burden of Cancer Among Ethnic Minority and the Medically Underserved Populations." The Unequal Burden of Cancer: An Assessment of NIH Research and Programs for Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1999.
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the aggregations which are called "races" are really macro-ethnic groups. Scientifically speaking, there is only one race, Homo sapiens , but many ethnic groups and the entire population can be described within the five macro-ethnic groups we have indicated. This arrangement recognizes both the unity of the human race and the diversity of the ethnic groups, without any major disturbance in the data collection. Macro-ethnic groups can then be subdivided as indicated by the needs of cancer research to permit studies within such groups. The committee feels that it is important to study cancer within as well as across macro-ethnic groups. In this respect the diversity of the U.S. population offers an excellent opportunity to clarify issues relating to prevention and control. The study of several ethnic groups permit a better assessment of the factors contributing to cancer than studies based on "race," especially when these studies are limited to black-white differences. The racial emphasis is often associated with supposed genetic differences, but these assumptions are inconsistent with our current knowledge of the genetic diversity of the human race.
Cancer Risk Factor Research and Cancer Control
Cancer surveillance data are often used to measure the progress toward reducing the incidence of cancer that has already occurred, but the potential of those data is far greater than that. The differences in incidence, survival, and mortality rates for various ethnic groups raise critical questions about the causes of cancer and how it can best be prevented and controlled. The data suggest that many lives could be saved if more were understood about the role of behavior, the environment, socioeconomic factors, and genetic factors related to cancer and their interplay. To date, the research effort has failed to take adequate advantage of the increasing diversity of the U.S. population as a tool in understanding the interplay of cancer risk factors. Such an effort would benefit not only ethnic minorities and medically underserved individuals, but also the entire U.S. population. It requires, however, that the appropriate data be collected. This is the challenge facing the newly organized Division of Cancer Control and Population Science (DCCPS).
NCI's Cancer Control Review Group report (National Cancer Institute, 1997a) made recommendations regarding the pursuit of research opportunities most likely to accelerate reductions in the nation's cancer burden (see Appendix B for the Review Group's recommendations). One of the items highlighted in that report was the need for basic behavioral and social science research in NCI to enhance the focus on primary prevention efforts. Included in the scope of this recommendation was the