BEGINNING NEXT MONTH, the American Cancer Society will conduct seven regional hearings on cancer prevalence among the poor. Then, says the society's president, Harold P. Freeman, MD, the data that are collected will be made public in a mid-July report to Congress, other federal policymakers, and "the staffs of agencies serving the poor."
Speaking in Irvine, Calif, at the society's 31st Science Writers' Seminar, Freeman noted that "the chance of getting cancer, and of dying from it, is disproportionately higher among poor Americans, regardless of race." He cited a 1986 report of the society's Subcommittee on Cancer in the Economically Disadvantaged that said nearly 34 million Americans below the poverty level—23 million white, 9.5 million black, and 1.2 million of other races— have a relative survival rate of 10% to 15% below the American overall survival rate.
Freeman, who is director of surgery, Harlem Hospital Center, New York, NY, said: