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Definition of Health Disparities: In Addressing Health Disparities: The NIH Program of Action (April 2000), The First NIH Working Group on Health Disparities defined the term as the following:

Differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States.

For many years the National Cancer Institute has recognized the existence of cancer health disparities. In The Nation's Investment in Cancer Research: A Plan and Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2007, the National Cancer Institute pledged to "Areas in which cancer health disparities are particularly evident include reduced access to cancer screening and diagnostic services, treatment disparities, lack of awareness about cancer risk and prevention, lack of access to clinical trials, and differential exposures to cancer causing agents."