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Historic study into why Black women have higher cancer death rates recruiting Philadelphia women

Mother-daughter team recruiting Black women in Philadelphia area for historic study
Mother-daughter team recruiting Black women in Philadelphia area for historic study 02:22

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — The American Cancer Society has launched a historic new study to find out why Black women have high cancer death rates.

Why is there a disparity in cancer deaths? Doctors say answering that question — the focus of this research — will help save lives.

At their home in West Chester, Anthonise Fields, Ph.D., is making plans with her 14-year-old daughter to help Black women fight cancer.

"Very few African American women have been included in the research that underpins a lot of the treatment, the medicines," Fields said.

She's working with the American Cancer Society to change that and recruiting Black women for a historic new study.

"We need to supplement the data with focused study on Black women," Fields said. "So we can understand the full spectrum of what are the factors and the combination of factors that actually causes cancer."

The study, called Voices of Black Women, will include 100,000 healthy Black women to understand why their cancer survival rates are so low.

"We know that there are differences in the way cancer presents," Alpa V. Patel, Ph.D., said. "For instance for Black women, cancer tends to present in more aggressive types and at later stages of disease."

Patel, co-principal investigator for the research, said the confidential surveys will be updated for decades. 

"And using all of this information we're able to learn about risk factors for cancer and how to improve outcomes," Patel said. 

Fields, who lost her dad to cancer, said she'll be recruiting Black women from around the Philadelphia region. 

"Your voice is the key to changing lives forever. That's the main mission and that is the main mission of this," FIelds said.

The American Cancer Society plans to enroll 100,000 Black women who will be followed for 30 years.

Participating is easy — answering questions on a survey. 

Learn more at Voices of Black Women website.

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