Cancer Among African Americans
In the United States, cancer represents almost one fourth of the total deaths among African Americans. The Health Alliance hopes to raise community awareness about the prevalence of cancer in minority groups.
According to the American Cancer Society, the most commonly diagnosed cancers are prostate cancer among African American men and breast cancer among African American women. The high occurrence rate within this population is mainly due to reduced access to medical care, late diagnosis due to unavailable or unutilized screening procedures or a lack of awareness about these procedures.
The incidence rate of prostate cancer is 68 percent higher among African American men than Caucasian men, mainly due to a lack of screening and early diagnosis. The Health Alliance is working to make prostate screenings as accessible as possible by offering free screenings at the Black Family Reunion held annually in August, and providing low-cost screenings at all Health Alliance hospitals during convenient evening hours for one week every September. In addition to these screenings, you can request a screening from a Health Alliance physician at any time throughout the year.
This screening involves a digital rectal exam (DRE), which can detect irregularities of the prostate, as well as a blood test known as a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) to check the blood level of PSA, a protein produced by prostate cells. The results of these tests are mailed directly to the participant and the participant’s primary physician.
B. A., M.D., radiation oncologist at The University Hospital Cancer Center, recommends yearly DREs and PSAs for men over the age of 50 who have no known symptoms of prostate cancer. It is also extremely important for African American men or men with a positive family history of prostate cancer who are between the ages of 40 and 50 to have the annual exam. These tests are a Medicare-covered benefit for men over 50. Watch this website for more information on the dates and locations for this year’s Health Alliance prostate screenings.
A survey by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) in October 1999 revealed that minority women were half as likely as Caucasian women to know the specifics about breast cancer screening, such as Medicare coverage, the age to begin screening and the need for regular mammograms.
The Health Alliance Mobile Mammography van frequently stops at neighborhood and local businesses across the Tristate to bring mammograms and breast cancer knowledge to all Greater Cincinnati residents. A mammogram is a simple procedure that takes less than 15 minutes. Through taking an X-ray of the breasts, it is able to detect lumps long before they can be felt through a physical examination. This procedure is recommended every one to two years for all women over age 50, and is covered once a year by Medicare and most insurance companies.
Source: American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures for African Americans 2000 – 2001
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