As the week of April 19-25 brings cancer among minority groups in the United States into focus, it’s a great time to increase public understanding of disparities in cancer screening, prevention, and treatment that exist among various ethnic and racial groups. Though genetic factors, as well factors relating to country of origin for recent immigrants, may be responsible for some of the differences in cancer incidence and death rates between White and non–White populations, socioeconomic disparities and cultural factors are more likely to blame. Because certain ethnic and racial populations may face challenges in accessing healthcare—including economic barriers, inadequate or no health insurance, and racial or ethnic discrimination—access to screening for early detection, comprehensive treatment, and education about healthy lifestyle choices (such as diet and nutrition) among these groups may be compromised compared with White populations.
The following estimates from the American Cancer Society demonstrate the disparities in cancer incidence and deaths among different racial and ethnic groups within the U.S. population: (1)
- African Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group. Among African Americans, the death rate from cancer among males is about 37% higher than for White males and 17% higher among females.
- Although Hispanics have lower incidence for all cancers combined and most common cancers compared with Whites, they have a higher incidence of cancer associated with infection (such as cervical, liver, and stomach).
- Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders also have a lower incidence of most common cancers, but, similar to Hispanics, these populations have a higher rate of infection-related cancers. Asian Americans and Pacific Islander men and women also have higher incidence and death rates for liver and stomach cancer than all other racial and ethnic groups, with the exception of a higher death rate for stomach cancer in African-American men.
- American Indian and Alaska Natives have the highest incidence and death rates for kidney cancer among all ethnic and racial groups.
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American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures . Accessed March 2019.
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