Graphic: Cathleen Heard

Although a smaller percentage of African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer than white women, African Americans are more likely to die from breast cancer than women from other ethnic groups. Vietnamese American women have the highest cervical cancer rates of any ethnic group. And poor Americans of all races have higher rates of cancer incidence and mortality than do people from other socioeconomic groups.

The Institute of Medicine's (IOM) report The Unequal Burden of Cancer1 publicly acknowledged disparities in cancer and cancer mortality rates between the white population in the United States and ethnic minority members and the very poor. But some at the National Institutes of Health note that they have long known about these health disparities.

"I made [health dispartities] a top priority at NIEHS [the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences] when I arrived in 1991," says NIEHS director Kenneth Olden...

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