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National Minority Cancer Awareness Week: April 15th-21st

Fifteen years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives designated the third week in April as National Minority Cancer Awareness Week in an effort to draw attention to the disparities in cancer incident and death rates, stating  “While cancer affects men and women of every age, race, ethnic background, and economic class, the disease has a disproportionately severe impact on minorities and the economically disadvantaged.” Next week, April 15th-21st, is this year’s National Minority Cancer Awareness Week and the Oncofertility Consortium plans to continue to raise awareness about this divisive health discrepancy.

National Minority Cancer Awareness Week promotes increased awareness of prevention and treatment among segments of the population that are at greater risk of developing cancer. The week’s emphasis gives us an opportunity to focus on high-risk populations and to develop innovative approaches to battling cancer incidence unique to these communities.
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer death rates for women are highest among African American women and new research suggests they are less likely to receive fertility preservation information after cancer diagnosis than Caucasian women. Although cancer deaths have declined for both Caucasians and African Americans living in the US, African Americans continue to suffer the greatest burden for each of the most common types of cancer. For all cancers combined, the death rate is 25 percent higher for African Americans than for Caucasians.

To better understand the disparities among the overall incident and death rates among racial/ethnic groups, please take a look at the tables below provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI):

Table 1. Female Breast Cancer Incidence and Death Rates

Racial/Ethnic Group Incidence Death
All 127.8 25.5
African American/Black 118.3 33.8
Asian/Pacific Islander   89.0 12.6
Hispanic/Latino   89.3 16.1
American Indian/Alaska Native   69.8 16.1
White 132.5 25.0

Table 2. Cervical Cancer Incidence and Death Rates

Racial/Ethnic Group Incidence Death
All   8.7 2.6
African American/Black 11.4 4.9
Asian/Pacific Islander   8.0 2.4
Hispanic/Latino 13.8 3.3
American Indian/Alaska Native   6.6 4.0
White   8.5 2.3

Although much progress has been made in addressing disparities in cancer treatment and support, there is still much to be done!  Please use National Minority Cancer Awareness Week as an opportunity to continue to push for progress among minority communities in the fight against cancer.

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