Each year cancer death rates for African-American men and women decline. Unfortunately the rate remains much higher than the cancer death rates among white men and women. For examples, African-American male is 35 percent more likely and an African-American woman is 18 percent more likely to die of cancer than a white man and woman. Of all the ethnic groups, African-Americans have the shortest five-year survival rate and the highest death rate for most cancers.
For most all types of cancer, African-Americans are more often diagnosed at later stages due to poor access to screenings, and are less likely to have access to quality care once diagnosed. This difference highlights the importance of quality primary care in making sure that each person receives timely screenings.
The majority of what we know about cancer and its causes has come from research with populations that are predominantly white non-Hispanic. And because differences exist in how cancer behaves in each ethnicity, it is important to increase the number of studies that focus on health disparities among the races as well as have more African-Americans take part in research studies. The more knowledge we have, the better our treatment options are.
Because African-Americans are consistently not represented in clinical trials, also known as research studies, it is important for minority patients to ask their doctors if there are clinical trials available that would work for them. In addition it is important for health professionals to talk with each of their patients, regardless of race, about clinical trials and how they might work for the patient.
For more information about any cancer concern, contact the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center/Cancer Information Service:
Cancer Information Service
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center
UI Hospitals and Clinics
200 Hawkins Drive, 4802 JPP
Iowa City, Iowa 52242