Racial disparities in cancer incidence, survival rate reduced over last 25 years

The rate of cancer incidence and deaths among African Americans has surpassed that of whites for decades, but recent data from the American Cancer Society suggests that the “cancer gap” is shrinking, according to a recent report from NPR.  

The media outlet cited the study directly, stating that in 2019 approximately 202,260 new cases of cancer and 73,030 deaths are expected to occur among blacks in the U.S. But the study also showed the gap between blacks and whites has narrowed considerably over the past 25 years for lung, prostate and colorectal cancers.  

J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, acting chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, told NPR that the improvement among African-Americans is due to a large decrease in smoking within the population. However, racial disparities in cancer still continue due to apparent differences in education, access to healthcare and socioeconomic status, he noted.  

"I can't say why smoking has decreased so dramatically in the black community but the fact that it has is very good news," Lichtenfeld said. "It has significantly narrowed the gap between blacks and whites and we are very grateful." 

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