Cancer risk prediction models have the potential to revolutionize the science and practice of cancer prevention and control by identifying the likelihood that a patient will develop cancer at some point in the future, likely experience more benefit than harm from a given intervention, and survive their cancer for a certain number of years. The ability of risk prediction models to produce estimates that are valid and reliable for people from diverse socio-demographic backgrounds-and consequently their utility for broadening the reach of precision medicine to marginalized populations-depends on ensuring that the risk factors included in the model are represented as thoroughly and as accurately as possible. However, cancer risk prediction models created in the United States have a critical limitation, the origins of which stem from the country's earliest days: they either erroneously treat the social construct of race as an immutable biological factor (ie, they "essentialize"race), or they exclude from the model those socio-contextual factors that are associated with both race and health outcomes. Models that essentialize race and/or exclude socio-contextual factors sometimes incorporate "race corrections"that adjust a patient's risk estimate up or down based on their race. This commentary discusses the origins of race corrections, potential flaws with such corrections, and strategies for developing cohorts for developing risk prediction models that do not essentialize race or exclude key socio-contextual factors. Such models will help move the science of cancer prevention and control towards its goal of eliminating cancer disparities and achieving health equity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1620-1624
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


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