African-American cancer deaths decrease, but remain highest in U.S. though African American cancer death rates are dropping, the gap between blacks and whites is substantial and African Americans tend to be diagnosed at a later stage of the disease, according to findings in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2009-2010.
"African Americans have the highest death rate of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S., and have lower survival rates at each stage," said Donna Rankin, ACS's regional director of health initiatives. "The causes of these disparities are complex and likely reflect social and economic disparities, not biologic differences associated with race. African Americans face inequalities in income, education, and standard of living, as well as barriers to accessing high-quality health care. And while it is discouraging that these differences still exist, we absolutely must face them and continue to enact policies to address them to save lives and reduce suffering from cancer among African Americans."
In 2009 among African Americans, there were about 150,090 new cases of invasive cancer diagnosed and about 63,360 cancer deaths. The most commonly diagnosed cancers among African American men were prostate, lung, and colon. Among African American women, the most common cancers were breast, lung, and colon. Lung cancer tops the list of cancer related deaths for both African American men and women.
Spreading the word about cancer prevention, early detection and treatment options is the key to lowering overall cancer rates. Locally, the Society is working hard to raise cancer awareness and emphasize the importance of regular cancer screenings through grassroots initiatives run out of its South Dallas Outreach Center. Located in the MLK Jr. Community Center at 2922 MLK Jr. Blvd., Ste. 129., the office has been a staple in the community for 13 years.
"There will always be differences in the cancer experience among diverse ethnic groups, but there should not be differences in access to care," said Rankin. "The American Cancer Society is working hard to insure that everyone has the same access to health information, and prevention and treatment services."
In 2006, the Society launched an ambitious effort to address inequities in cancer prevention services, access to care, incidence, and mortality. Since 1999, the Society has funded 106 studies totaling $87 million devoted to the poor and medically underserved. Forty-two percent of this research focuses on the African American population. The Society's internal research departments focuses substantial resources on disparities research, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Society's advocacy affiliate, helps to create, change, and influence public policies that can have a significant impact on reducing cancer disparities in this country.
For more cancer information, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit


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