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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Office of Minority Health

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Cancer and African Americans

African Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for all cancers combined and for most major cancers. Death rates for all major causes of death are higher for African Americans than for non-Hispanic whites, contributing in part to a lower life expectancy for both African American men and African American women.

  • From 2012-2016, African American men were 1.2 times and 1.7 times, respectively, more likely to have new cases of colon and prostate cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white men.
  • African American men were 1.7 times as likely to have stomach cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white men and 2.5 times more likely to die from stomach cancer.
  • African Americans men have lower 5-year cancer survival rates for most cancer sites, as compared to non-Hispanic white men.
  • African American men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white men.
  • From 2012-2016, African American women were just as likely to have been diagnosed with breast cancer, however, they were almost 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white women.
  • African American women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with stomach cancer, and they are 2.2 times as likely to die from stomach cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white women.

Diagnosis

Age-adjusted percentages of cancer among adults aged 18 and over, 2018
Cancer Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black/
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
All Sites 5.1 9.9 0.5
Breast (women) 2.9 3.3 0.9
Cervical (women) 0.8 1.1 0.7
Prostate (men)  2.9 2.1 1.4

Source: CDC, 2020. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-3a.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

Top Cancer Sites for African Americans (2012-2016)

Cancer Incidence Rates per 100,000 – Men
Cancer African American
Men
Non-Hispanic White Men African American/
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
All Sites 520.8 505.5 1.0
Colon & Rectum 52.4 44.1 1.2
Esophagus 6.4 8.3 0.8
Kidney 24.3 23.1 1.1
Liver & IBD 17.8 10.8 1.6
Lung 73.5 67.5 1.1
Myeloma 16.3 8.1 2.0
Oral Cavity & Pharynx 13.4 19.3 0.7
Pancreas 16.7 15.1 1.1
Prostate 176.7 104.5 1.7
Stomach 14.1 8.2 1.7

Source: NCI 2020. Seer Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016. Tables 2.15 through 24.15
https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/sections.html

 

Top Cancer Sites for African Americans (2012-2016)

Cancer Incidence Rates per 100,000 – Women
Cancer African American Women Non-Hispanic
White Women
African American/
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
All Sites 391.3 448.0 0.9
Breast 124.0 136.6 0.9
Cervical 8.7 6.6 1.3
Colon & Rectum 39.1 34.3 1.1
Kidney 12.1 11.1 1.1
Liver & IBD 5.4 3.7 1.5
Lung 44.6 56.0 0.8
Myeloma 11.9 4.8 2.5
Pancreas 14.0 11.5 1.2
Stomach 7.7 3.8 2.0
Uterus 27.4 28.5 1.0

Source: NCI 2020. Seer Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016. Tables 2.15 through 24.15
https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/sections.html

 

5 Year Survival Rate

Percentage of Patients - Men (2009-2015)
Cancer African American
Men
White Men African American/
White Ratio
All Sites 63.6 66.5 1.0
Colon & Rectum 56.2 64.5 0.9
Kidney 74.5 74.0 1.0
Liver & IBD 14.1 17.5 0.8
Lung 13.9 16.2 0.9
Pancreas 7.7 9.5 0.8
Prostate 95.7 98.1 1.0
Stomach 26.5 27.4 1.0

Source: NCI 2020. Seer Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016. Tables 1.5 and 1.6
https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/sections.html

 

Percentage of Patients – Women (2009-2015)
Cancer African American
Women
White Women African American/
White Ratio
All Sites 59.7 68.6 0.9
Breast 81.5 90.8 0.9
Cervical 55.4 67.2 0.8
Colon & Rectum 60.4 65.3 0.9
Liver & IBD 18.2 18.3 1.0
Lung 21.0 23.0 0.9
Pancreas 10.1 9.0 1.1
Stomach 38.9 34.7 1.1

Source: NCI 2020. Seer Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016. Tables 1.5 and 1.6
https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/sections.html

 

Death Rate

Cancer Death Rates per 100,000 – Men (2012-2016)
Cancer African American
Men
Non-Hispanic
White Men
African American/
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
All Sites 233.5 197.3 1.2
Colon & Rectum 23.8 16.6 1.4
Liver & IBD 13.2 8.3 1.6
Lung 62.1 54.1 1.1
Pancreas 14.8 12.9 1.1
Prostate 38.9 18.1 2.1
Stomach 8.2 3.3 2.5
Myeloma 7.4 4.0 1.9

Source: NCI 2020. Seer Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016. Table 1.20
https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/sections.html

 

Cancer Death Rates per 100,000 – Women (2012-2016)

Cancer African American Women Non-Hispanic
White Women
African American/
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
All Sites 156.0 141.9 1.1
Breast 28.1 20.6 1.4
Cervical 3.5 2.1 1.7
Colon & Rectum 15.5 11.9 1.3
Liver & IBD 4.7 3.4 1.4
Myeloma 5.4 2.4 2.3
Pancreas 12.2 9.5 1.3
Stomach 3.8 1.7 2.2
Uterus 8.5 4.4 1.9

Source: NCI 2020. Seer Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016. Table 1.20
https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/sections.html

 

Screening

Breast Cancer

Percentage of women age 40 and over who had a mammogram within the past 2 years, 2015 (crude)
Non-Hispanic
Black Women
Non-Hispanic
White Women
Non-Hispanic Black/
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
69.7 65.8 1.1

Source: CDC, 2019. Health United States, 2018. Table 33.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus18.pdf [PDF | 1.56MB]

 

Cervical Cancer

Percentage of women age 18 and over who had a Pap smear within the past 3 years, 2015 (crude)
Non-Hispanic Black
Women
Non-Hispanic
White Women
Non-Hispanic Black/
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
74.6 68.4 1.1

Source: CDC, 2019. Health United States, 2018. Table 34.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus18.pdf [PDF | 1.56MB]

 

Colon Cancer

Adults aged 50-75 who had any colorectal test or procedure, 2015
Non-Hispanic
Black
Non-Hispanic
White
Non-Hispanic Black/
Non-Hispanic White Ratio
61.3 65.4 0.9

Source: National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Data Query: Table 7_5_1_3_1.1 [Accessed 2/11/2020]
http://nhqrnet.ahrq.gov/inhqrdr/data/query

Last Modified: 2/28/2020 2:49:00 PM