[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 5-Feb-2013
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Contact: David Sampson
david.sampson@cancer.org
American Cancer Society

Cancer in African Americans: Gap closing for some sites; Widening for others

Drop in overall mortality means nearly 200,000 cancer deaths avoided in African Americans since 1990

The cancer death rate for men declined faster among African Americans than among whites in the latest time period, narrowing the racial disparity in overall cancer death rates, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society. But while gaps are closing for some cancers, such as lung and other smoking-related cancers and for prostate cancer, the racial disparity has widened for colorectal cancer and female breast cancer, cancers that are most affected by screening and treatment. The findings are published in Cancer Statistics for African Americans, 2013 which appears in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The report and its consumer version, Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2013-2014, provide current data on cancer incidence, mortality, survival, screening test use, and risk factors for African Americans.

The decrease in overall cancer death rates among African American males was the largest of any racial or ethnic group during the most recent time period. The reduction in overall cancer death rates since the early 1990s translates to the avoidance of nearly 200,000 deaths from cancer among African Americans.

Meanwhile, five-year relative survival rates are lower for African Americans than whites for most cancers at each stage of diagnosis. "These disparities largely reflect unequal access to health care and other socioeconomic factors," said Otis W. Brawley. M.D., American Cancer Society chief medical officer. "While cancer death rates among African American men have been declining rapidly, they remain 33% higher than those among white men, evidence that more can and should be done to accelerate this progress by making sure all Americans have equal access to cancer prevention, early detection, and state-of-the-art treatments."

The report finds that from 2000 to 2009, the overall cancer death rate declined faster among African American males than white males (2.4% vs. 1.7% per year), but similarly among females of both races (1.5% and 1.4% per year, respectively). Other findings from the report:

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Facts & Figures will be posted to cancer.org/statistics after embargo.

Cancer Statistics for African Americans, 2013-2014 will be posted to cacancerjournal.com after embargo.

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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