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April 13, 2005

Confronting Genetic Testing Disparities: Knowledge Is Power

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Medicine and Human Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

JAMA. 2005;293(14):1783-1785. doi:10.1001/jama.293.14.1783

In 1597, when philosopher Francis Bacon first composed the phrase Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est, “For knowledge itself is power,” he could never have imagined its current applicability to reducing disparities in cancer care and prevention in the United States. The landmark Institute of Medicine report Unequal Treatment: Understanding Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care1 revealed that racial- and ethnic-minority patients receive inferior health care compared with white Americans, even when income and insurance inequalities are leveled. The promise of early cancer detection and prevention is within reach as newer technologies become incorporated into medical practice. Unfortunately, new technologies are likely to increase health care disparities even further as they widen the gap between those who already receive the best care and those who do not.