Cancer Deaths Decrease for Blacks but Disparities Persist - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

1229_lif-costs-of-cancer-2Despite a reduction in cancer death rates, African Americans continue to be diagnosed at more advanced stages and have lower survival rates at each stage of diagnosis, according to a report released today by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The latest edition of Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2009-2010” found that a rapid reduction in death rates from lung and prostate cancers is the primary reason that death rates declined for all cancers combined among African American men.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among African American men and women.

The report has been released every two years for the past 18 years and identifies disparities between blacks and whites in terms of rates for death, cancer occurrences, and screenings.

There is proof that cervical, breast, and colon cancer screenings work to prevent diseases, but prostate cancer screening is not proven, says Dr. Otis W. Brawley, an ACS spokesperson.

“We hope that prostate cancer screenings save lives, but we have no studies [which show that they do]. We have a theory,” Brawley says. “The difference is we know colorectal screening saves lives. There is no question about it. We have this amazing problem that 20% to 30% of black men are getting colon cancer screening while 70% are getting prostate cancer screening. Doctors don’t push colorectal screening the way they should.”

The report also shows that while overall cancer death rates have declined among African American women, they are falling at a slower rate than among white women.

“Part of the black/white difference in cancer rates is the black/white difference in obesity,” he says. “The most important thing that we can advise blacks in terms of diet and physical activity is that they need to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and they need to get physically active and try to maintain an ideal body weight.”

Unfortunately, Brawley predicts that cancer death rates are going to level out in the future and that rates just might start increasing because screening rates have decreased.

“Race does not matter accept in the socioeconomic sense,” says Brawley, emphasizing the importance of cancer screenings to save lives. “The data shows equal screening and treatment produces equal outcome.”

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.