DeSantis says the decline in African-American cancer deaths between 2000 and 2009 is due primarily to lower rates of lung cancer from less cigarette smoking, which she and her colleagues attribute to helping prevent an estimated 200,000 cancer deaths.
Nevertheless, 15 percent more African-American men die from cancer than their white counterparts – and even though African-American women are less likely to develop cancer, when they do, they die from it more often than white women.
“With African-American women, it’s really upsetting,” says DeSantis. “They have lower rates of breast cancer, but they are more likely to die from the disease. It’s just unacceptable.”
According to today’s report, an estimated 176,620 new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed among African-Americans in 2013, with 94,540 of those cases among men and 82,080 among women.
The two most commonly diagnosed cancers expected this year will be prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women, with the four most common cancers – breast, prostate, colorectal and lung – expected to comprise over half of all African-American cancer cases this year.
“You’ve got screening for breast cancer, where catching it early improves your outcomes, and screening for colorectal cancer which is preventable,” says DeSantis. “African-Americans are just not getting access to these high-quality screenings that we’ve had over the past few decades.”