Closing the Racial Gap in Cancer Care
- In the United States, Hispanic people are up to 30% less likely to develop cancer, and die from the disease, compared to white people, according to an analysis released today. But that’s not the whole story.
- Hispanic people still have a higher risk of developing infection-related cancers than white people, including liver, stomach and cervical cancer, according to the data.
- Cancer risk is important to understand for any racial group, but this data is particularly important because the Hispanic and Latino population is the second-largest racial or ethnic group in the U.S.
“In contrast,” the analysis reads in part, “Hispanic individuals have higher rates of infection-related cancers,” including about two-fold higher incidence of liver and stomach cancer. In other words, Hispanic people have a higher risk of developing infection-related cancers than white people, according to the data.Read More
Cancer is still the leading cause of death among the Hispanic population; an estimated 46,500 cancer deaths will occur among Hispanic people in the continental United States and Hawaii this year, according to researchers. The most common causes of cancer death among Hispanic men are lung cancer (13% of diagnoses), colorectal cancer and liver cancer (each at 11%.) For Hispanic women, the most common cancers are breast cancer (14% of diagnoses) and lung cancer (10%.)
Why This Data is Important
Cancer risk is important to understand for any racial group, but this data is particularly important because the Hispanic and Latino population is the second-largest racial or ethnic group in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 data, accounting for nearly 19% of the total population. But Hispanics are also the highest percentage of people without health insurance of any major racial or ethnic group — nearly triple that of white people. (About 26% of Hispanic people among adults ages 18 to 64 are uninsured, compared to 9% of white people.)
Driving this point home, researchers say that much of the high burden of cancer among Hispanic people could be reduced by increasing access to high-quality cancer prevention, early cancer detection and cancer treatment services. Oncologists have repeatedly told SurvivorNet that the key to catching cancers early is detection and screening.
But research suggests that part of the reduced access to cancer screening and treatment services is due to the lack of health insurance coverage among Hispanic people.
Researchers further attribute the variations in cancer risk between the Hispanic and white populations to differences in exposure to cancer-causing infectious agents and behavioral risk factors.
SurvivorNet brought together cancer experts, survivors and advocates for our Close the Gap virtual conference to discuss the issue of racial disparities in cancer care.
Closing the Gap in Cancer Care
SurvivorNet is committed to helping close the racial gap that exists in cancer care. We believe that everyone should have equal access to screenings and treatment.
During SurvivorNet’s Close the Gap conference this year, Matthew Knowles spoke about this racial divide and urged change. He says, “This distrust (by people of color towards the medical community) goes back all the way to slavery, quite frankly.”
“If there is a new day,” Knowles says, “I think we have to understand that people of color are in high positions in the medical profession and working vigorously to make a change. We can’t change what happened years ago, but we can affect change of what happens today. It’s about early detection.”
The American Cancer Society publishes its report on cancer risk among the Hispanic population every three years.
Contributing: Anne McCarthy