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Being Black Raises Your Risk for Some Cancers

Not only does different cancers affect people differently, but sometimes your race raises your risk of developing cancer or your likelihood of successful treatment.

Cancers more likely to affect Black people

Certain types of cancer disproportionately affect Black people.

  • Breast cancer – Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age and at later stages compared to women of other racial and ethnic groups. They also have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer.
  • Cervical cancer – Black women have higher rates of cervical cancer compared to women from other racial and ethnic backgrounds. They are also more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, resulting in poorer outcomes.
  • Colorectal cancer – Black people have a higher incidence rate of colorectal cancer and are more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, leading to poorer outcomes compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Lung cancer – While lung cancer affects individuals of all races and ethnicities, Black men have the highest incidence rate and mortality rate from lung cancer compared to other groups.
  • Prostate cancer – Prostate cancer is more prevalent among Black men compared to men of other racial and ethnic groups. Black men are also more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive forms of prostate cancer that have a higher mortality rate.

Disparities in cancer rates among different racial and ethnic groups can be related to socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, systemic barriers and cultural factors. 

To address these disparities, we must all raise awareness, promote early detection and screenings, improve access to quality care and address the social determinants of health that contribute to worse patient outcomes. 

Black families should discuss their histories of disease

Along with understanding that some cancers are more common — or even more dangerous — among the Black community, understanding the age and types of cancers that relatives have encountered helps you better determine your own risk for cancer and other diseases, which informs screening recommendations. 

If you have a biological grandparent, parent or sibling with cancer, share that information with your primary care provider and ask if a screening is right for you.

Learn more about cancer tests and procedures in our Health Library. And you can explore Tanner Cancer Care’s offerings and our Tanner Cancer Care 3-Day Promise.

Tanner Health System, Cancer Care

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