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Abstract

The American Cancer Society provides estimates on the number of new cancer cases and deaths, and compiles health statistics on African Americans in a biennial publication, Cancer Facts and Figures for African Americans. The compiled statistics include cancer incidence, mortality, survival, and lifestyle behaviors using the most recent data on incidence and survival from the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and behavioral information from the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), and National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). It is estimated that 132,700 new cases of cancer and 63,100 deaths will occur among African Americans in the year 2003. Although African Americans have experienced higher incidence and mortality rates of cancer than whites for many years, incidence rates have declined by 2.7 percent per year in African-American males since 1992, while stabilizing in African-American females. During the same period, death rates declined by 2.1 percent and 0.4 percent per year among African-American males and females, respectively. The decrease in both incidence and death rates from cancer among African-American males was the largest of any racial or ethnic group. Nonetheless, African Americans still carry the highest cancer burden among US racial and ethnic groups. Most cancers detectable by screening are diagnosed at a later stage and survival rates are lower within each stage of disease in African Americans than in whites. The extent to which these disparities reflect unequal access to health care versus other factors is an active area of research.