The rate of cancer deaths has declined but racial disparities persist among black men and women

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Since the early ’90s, cancer death rates have declined by 33 percent, according to the American Cancer Society’s 2023 report.

Related Story: Cancer death rates down but racial disparities persist among Black men and women; ACS Journal Cancer statistics, 2023

However, the numbers show that black men and women are more likely to die from prostate, uterine, and breast cancers compared to other races, and the reasons why are multi-faceted.

“First and foremost, there is the socioeconomic factor. Black people are more likely to have disparities related to lack of access to health care due to medical redlining, even decreased access to health care professionals in order to receive the preventive care as well as the diagnosis and treatment after one has been told that they have cancer,” said Community Memorial Hospital’s OB/GYN Dr. Verna Thornton.

About 1-in-3 black men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, with 1-in-5 men and 1-in-6 women dying from it. “Cancer is the second leading cause of death among black Americans. It’s second only to cardiovascular disease. We know prostate is the number one cancer from which black men die and we know breast cancer being the number one cancer from which black women die,” Dr. Thornton explained.

Black men have a 19% higher mortality rate from cancer than white men, and black women have a 12% higher mortality rate.

Dr. Thornton shares that there are ways we can try and close the gap, and it starts with “granting access to health care uniformly among all citizens, but especially among our marginalized citizens. That’s going to include, especially here in the Duluth area, our African heritage communities, our Native American and indigenous communities. Many of us live in rural areas and do not have access to quality of care. Appointments are hard to schedule. Limited amount of time with an actual clinician in which patients do not feel heard and do not feel as though their cares and concerns of being paid attention to.”