Cancer Rate Among African Americans
Most Americans realize that cancer is blind when it chooses its victims, and like any other disease, it can strike anyone at any time. However, does race play a part in the risk for cancer?
Studies show that:
- the cancer risk is 25 percent higher overall for African American men;
- the risk for lung cancer is 45 percent higher;
- the death rate from breast cancer is increasing for African American women;
- skin cancer is less prevalent in African Americans, but it can be more serious.
According to the Texas Cancer Data Center, there are two main reasons for the severity of skin cancer among African Americans.
1. The most common type of melanoma found in African Americans, acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), is more aggressive than types found in Caucasians.
2. ALM is usually detected later than other melanomas, which results in poorer prognosis.
- African American men are at high risk for prostate cancer, in comparison with Caucasian and Asian Americans. The National Cancer Institute studies determined that the intake of saturated fat by ethnic groups may place them at risk. Their five-year study concluded that African American men have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world with a survival rate of 66.4 percent, compared to a survival rate of 81.3 percent for Caucasian men.
All is not doom and gloom. Knowing the facts about cancer, heeding the warning signs and taking preventive methods helps with early detection and early treatment.
- Every man should ask their doctor to include a prostate and testicular exam in their yearly check-up.
- Testicular self exams are also recommended. If a lump or any other change is noticed, such as heaviness, swelling, tenderness or pain, a doctor should be consulted.
- Minimize sun exposure especially during the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Apply sunscreen liberally and frequently, and reapply every two hours when working or playing in the sun. Wear appropriate clothing, including a hat and long sleeves if you will be exposed for long periods of time.
- Beware of reflective surfaces like the sand, snow, concrete and water. Avoid tanning salons and sun lamps since these artificial rays are similar to the sun.
- For women, preventive measures include mammograms and breast self-exam. A breast self-exam should be done once a month. An easy way to remember to do this is to time it with receiving your gas and electric bill or telephone bill each month. Make sure to tell your doctor if you feel a lump in your breast.
The Health Alliance Cancer Services can provide you a breast self-exam card, testicular self-exam card, the warning signs of cancer, information on healthy diets, the warning signs of skin cancer and information about the Health Alliance September prostate screenings.
For more information about free printed material, the public seminar or the Health Alliance Cancer Services or visit our Cancer site.
The Health Alliance supports many community efforts for cancer patients and their families. We are a proud major supporter of Cancer Survivor’s Day. The hospital staff helps organize this special patient support day. Our staff also participates in American Cancer Society events, sponsors races, walks/marathons and health fairs, as well as educational programs.
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