SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Although cancer death rates are decreasing among African Americans, they continue to have higher death rates and shorter survival rates than any racial and ethnic group in the United States for most cancers, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS) Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2011-2012.

The group's higher death rate is mainly due to higher mortality rates in breast and colorectal cancers in women and prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers in men. The death rates for lung and other smoking-related cancers and for prostate cancer have been decreasing faster for African American men than for white men, which is narrowing the gap in overall cancer death rates. In young African Americans and whites, for example, lung cancer death rates are similar in both men and women. Nevertheless, racial disparity is increasing in colorectal cancer in both men and women.

Although colorectal screening rates have continued to increase for African Americans over the last 20 years, they still remain lower than in whites: 49% of African Americans report having undergone a recent test compared with 56% of whites.

Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the ACS, notes that socioeconomic status continues to play a key role in these disparities. For most cancers, the lower the socioeconomic status, the higher the risk—regardless of demographic factors such as race and ethnicity, he says.

Other report highlights include:

  • Approximately 168,900 new cancer cases and 65,540 cancer deaths are expected in African Americans in 2011.

  • Prostate cancer (40% of all cancers), lung cancer (15%), and colon and rectum cancer (9%) are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in African American men. In their female counterparts, the most common cancers are breast (34%), lung (13%), and colon and rectum (11%).

• Lung cancer accounts for the largest number of cancer deaths in African American men (29%) and women (22%), followed by prostate cancer in men (16%) and breast cancer in women (19%). Meanwhile, cancers of the colon and rectum and pancreas are expected to rank third and fourth, respectively, as the leading sites for cancer deaths in African American men and women.

• In 2007, the death rates for all cancers combined continued to be 32% higher in African American men and 16% higher in African American women than in white men and women, respectively.

  • Although colorectal screening rates have continued to increase for African Americans over the last 20 years, they still remain lower than in whites: 49% of African Americans report having undergone a recent test compared with 56% of whites.

  • Approximately half of African American women age 40 years and older report having a mammogram within the past year compared with a slightly higher percentage of white women (52% vs 54%).

  • Half of African American women and 1 in 3 African American teenage girls are obese, which increases the risk of many cancers, including those of the breast (premenopausal), colon, endometrium and kidney, and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.

  • Smoking rates have been decreasing since the late 1990s in African American boys and girls, who have lower smoking rates than any other racial/ethnic group.

  • Nearly half of African American adults reported no leisure time physical activity in 2008, compared with approximately 1 in 3 whites, according to the National Health Interview Survey.