American Cancer Society Says Racial Disparities in Cancer Mortality are Declining in the U.S.

Research published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians found that U.S. racial disparities in cancer mortality between black and white patients is decreasing, but more progress is needed for certain cancer types and patient age cohorts.

Every 3 years, the American Cancer Society provides the estimated number of new cancer cases and deaths for black patients in the United States, as well as the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, survival, screening, and risk factors. The information is collected from the National Cancer Institute, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Cancer Cases and Mortality by the Numbers

In 2019, approximately 202,260 new cancer cases and 73,030 cancer deaths are expected to occur among black Americans. From 2006 to 2015, the overall cancer incidence rate decreased faster in black men (2.4%) than white men (1.7%) per year, largely due to the more rapid decline in lung cancer, according to the research. However, the overall cancer incidence rate was stable in black women, reflecting increasing rates of breast, uterine corpus, and pancreatic cancers in accordance with declining trends of lung and colorectal cancers.

Between 2006 and 2015, overall cancer incidence rates decreased faster in black men, at 2.4% per year, than white men, at 1.7% per year. In addition, overall cancer incidence rate is relatively stable in black women since 2009, but has increased slowly, at 0.2% per year, among white women.

The excess risk of overall cancer deaths in blacks compared with whites decreased for both sexes, from 47% in 1990 to 19% in 2016 in men and from 19% in 1990 to 13% in 2016 in women.

Trends in Specific Cancer Types

The four most common cancer types among black Americans, accounting for 54% of cases, are breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer. Prostate cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in black men, and breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in black women, each accounting for nearly one-third of cancers. Breast cancer-related death rates are 41% higher in black women than white women.

Age-Related Differences in Cancer

Race-related disparities have been nearly eliminated in men less than 50 years old and women 70 years and older, according to the findings.

Twenty‐five years of continuous declines in the cancer death rate among black individuals translates to more than 462,000 fewer cancer deaths. However, the 5-year survival rate is still lower in blacks than whites for every stage of diagnosis and for most cancers, likely due to socioeconomic barriers to timely, high-quality medical care.

Continued progress in reducing disparities will require expanding access for all Americans, according to the researchers.

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Source: CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians