[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 1-Feb-2011
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Contact: David Sampson
david.sampson@cancer.org
American Cancer Society

Race gap narrows for some cancers in African-Americans; continues to increase for others

New American Cancer Society report details progress and challenges

ATLANTA– February 1, 2011 – While the overall death rate for cancer continues to drop among African Americans, the group continues to have higher death rates and shorter survival of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers. The findings come from Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2011-2012, the latest edition of a report produced every two years by the American Cancer Society.

The higher overall cancer death rate among African Americans is due largely to higher mortality rates from breast and colorectal cancers in women and higher mortality rates from prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers in men. In recent years, death rates for lung and other smoking-related cancers and for prostate cancer have decreased faster in African American men than white men, leading to a narrowing of the gap in overall cancer death rates. Notably, lung cancer death rates for young African Americans and whites have converged in both men and women. In contrast, the racial disparity has continued to increase in recent years for colorectal cancer in both men and women and for breast cancer in women, cancers for which progress has been made through screening and improvements in treatment.

"While the factors behind these racial disparities are multifaceted, there is little doubt socioeconomic status plays a critical role," said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., American Cancer Society chief medical officer. "African Americans are disproportionately represented in lower socioeconomic groups. For most cancers, the lower the socioeconomic status, the higher the risk. It's important to note as well that the factors associated with socioeconomic status contribute to substantial differences in cancer incidence and mortality within racial and ethnic groups as well. People with lower socioeconomic status have higher cancer death rates, regardless of demographic factors such as race/ethnicity."

Highlights from the report include:

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Link to report : http://www.cancer.org/Research/CancerFactsFigures/CancerFactsFiguresforAfricanAmericans/index

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation's largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.



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