Non-White women report less social support than White women after a cancer diagnosis, but, encouragingly, both White and non-White survivors report that they are physically active. These findings were recently presented at the Third American Association for Cancer Research Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

Social support and physical activity are both considered important factors in improving health and quality of life among women survivors of cancer. Because non-White women tend to have a higher mortality rate from cancer and lower a quality of life following treatment than White women, researchers were interested in how social support and physical activity differed by race and ethnicity among female cancer survivors.

Using data from the 2005 Health Information National Trends Survey, researchers identified 577 female cancer survivors, including 75 non-White women. Overall, 87% of participants reported having social support (a family member or friend) following cancer treatment. White women, however, reported a higher rate of social support than non-White women: 99% versus 86%, respectively. The reported weekly rate of moderate physical activity was 99% overall, with 78% of White women and 75% of non-White women reporting that they exercised during a typical week.

It’s encouraging to find that both White and non-White women are physically active, as exercise has been shown to improve health and quality of life among survivors. However, to further improve survivorship among non-White women, social support services are needed for women of all races and ethnicities.

Reference: Jabson JM, Bowen DJ. Physical activity and social support: Racial differences among female cancer survivors. Presented at Third AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, Miami Florida, September 30-October 3, 2010. Abstract B97.

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