Black people in US more likely to die from certain cancers: Study
A new study by the American Cancer Society reveals that Black people in the US are significantly more likely to die from certain types of cancer, underscoring racial inequities in the US health care system.
As part of the organization’s yearly cancer statistics, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal “CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians,” the study found that prostate cancer mortality rates in Black men are about two to four times higher than those in every other racial and ethnic group.
Additionally, Black women are more likely than those in other ethnic groups to die from breast and uterine cancer.
“The biggest impact is lack of access to diagnostics, to prevention, to treatments,” Larry Norton, a medical oncologist and senior vice president at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and medical director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center, told Yahoo News. “That's clearly the biggest gap, and that's something that has to be addressed. Lack of access is partially just lack of penetration of information.”
The scope of cancer diagnoses is vast. The new study projects that there will be about 1,958,310 new U.S. cancer cases this year. Of that number, about 609,820 people are expected to die from cancer.
Lung cancer is projected to be the leading type of cancer death for both men and women, followed by prostate and colorectal cancer in men and breast and colorectal cancer in women.
Racial disparities exist in both the incidence of various cancers and mortality rates. The highest mortality rate for both sexes combined is among American Indian/Alaska Natives (AIAN), with the rate among Black people coming in a close second.
The overall incidence of cancer — defined by the National Cancer Institute as “the number of new cancers of a specific site/type occurring in a specified population during a year” — is highest among white people, with AIAN and Black people closely following them. The study found, however, that sex-specific incidence is highest among Black men.
From 2015 to 2019, the rate for Black men was 79% higher than for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) men, who have the lowest incidence rates, and 5% higher than for white men, who are ranked second.
Although prostate cancer mortality has dropped by 53% since its peak 30 years ago — largely thanks to early detection through widespread screening and advances in treatment — the incidence of cancer of the prostate is particularly high among Black men.
Prostate cancer is 70% higher in Black men than in white men, two times higher than in AIAN and Hispanic men, and three times higher than in AAPI men. Cancer screening is potentially more beneficial for Black men, the study says, because they are more likely to contract “genomically aggressive cancer.”