Cancer Health Disparities

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines “cancer health disparities” as adverse differences in cancer incidence (new cases), cancer prevalence (all existing cases), cancer death (mortality), cancer survivorship, and burden of cancer or related health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States. These population groups may be characterized by age, disability, education, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, income, or race. People who are poor, lack health insurance, and are medically underserved (have limited or no access to effective health care)—regardless of ethnic and racial background—often experience a greater burden of disease than the general population.

Cancer incidence and death statistics reveals that certain groups in the United States (US) suffer disproportionately from cancer and its associated effects, including premature death. For example, African Americans/Blacks, Asian Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and underserved Whites are more likely than the general population to have higher incidence and death statistics for certain types of cancer.

Some Key Cancer Incidence And Mortality Disparities In The U.S.:

  • African Americans have higher death rates than all other groups for many, although not all, cancer types.
  • African American women are much more likely than white women to die of breast cancer. The mortality gap is widening as the incidence rate in African American women, which in the past had been lower than that in white women, has caught up to that in white women.
  • African Americans are more than twice as likely as whites to die of prostate cancer and nearly twice as likely to die of stomach cancer.
  • Colorectal cancer incidence is higher in African Americans than in whites. Incidence in all groups is declining, but the difference between the groups remains.
  • Hispanic and African American women have higher rates of cervical cancer than women of other racial/ethnic groups; African American women have the highest rates of death from the disease.
  • Hispanics and American Indians/Alaska Natives have the highest rates of liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer, followed by Asian Pacific Islanders.
  • Both the incidence of lung cancer and death rates from the disease are higher in African American men than in men of other racial/ethnic groups.
  • African American women are nearly twice as likely as white women to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, which is more aggressive and harder to treat than other subtypes of breast cancer.
  • There are large differences among racial/ethnic groups in colorectal cancer screening rates, with Spanish-speaking Hispanics less likely to be screened than whites or English-speaking Hispanics.
  • Rates of colorectal cancer deaths among those younger than 65 (“premature” deaths) are higher in states with the lowest education levels than in those with higher levels. People with more education are less likely to die prematurely of colorectal cancer than those with less education, regardless of race or ethnicity.

For more information on cancer health disparities please see the following link.

Please see the following link for information on CDC’s latest research and featured resources

Reduction of Cancer Health Disparities

National Cancer Institute Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) plays a vital role in helping to reduce the unequal burden of cancer by providing basic and community research, as well as networks, and training. Please see the following links:

Cancer Health Disparities in Connecticut (CT)

For the 2009 Report on cancer disparities in CT, please see the following link.

The Connecticut Center of Excellence for Eliminating Health Disparities among Latinos (CEHDL)

The mission of CEHDL is to contribute to the elimination of health disparities among Latino(a) through the formation of human resources, community-based research, and culturally appropriate outreach/extension. Click the following link for more information.