Community outreach and engagement are essential to addressing the unequal burden of cancer carried by many racial and ethnic groups. Specific cancers often have a greater impact on particular population groups, striking one ethnic group more severely or more often than another.

Behavioral, biological, treatment, prevention, and economic issues contribute to cancer health disparities. The City of Chicago is home to 2.7 million people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The 2010 U.S. Census reports that Chicago’s population includes 887,000 Blacks/African Americans, 778,000 Hispanics/Latinos, 169,000 Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 13,000 American Indians/Alaska Natives—all with varying heathcare needs and some needs that are unique to the Chicago area.

African Americans
African Americans carry the heaviest burden of cancer in the U.S, according to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program. African Americans have a death rate for all cancers that is almost 25 percent higher than the rate observed in Whites. Although the incidence of breast cancer is higher in White women than in African American women, breast cancer deaths in African American women far exceed the number of breast cancer deaths for White women. Similarly, prostate cancer affects African American men more severely than other racial groups. African American men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the U.S. and are twice as likely as White men to die from the disease.

American Indians/Alaska Natives
Mortality rates for kidney cancer are higher in American Indians/Alaska Natives than in any other racial or ethnic population, according to the American Cancer Society. The risk of death after prostate cancer diagnosis is also the highest for this group. It is important to note that cancer information for American Indians/Alaska Natives is incomplete because the racial/ethnic status of many of these individuals has not been correctly identified in medical records.

Asians/Pacific Islanders
A new report from the American Cancer Society estimated there would be 57,740 new cancer cases and 16,910 cancer deaths among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in 2016. Among men, the three leading causes of cancer death are lung, liver, and colorectal. Among women, they are lung, breast, and colorectal. The most commonly diagnosed cancers among men are prostate, lung, and colorectal. Among women, the most commonly diagnosed cancers are breast, thyroid, and lung. Colorectal cancer screening in the largest Asian groups is slightly lower than that in non-Hispanic whites (61 percent) – 54 percent in Asian Indians and Chinese and 59 percent in Filipinos – although it is substantially lower in all other Asian groups combined (46 percent), which includes Koreans, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

The Hispanic population in the U.S. also has a high rate for cancers associated with infection, including liver, stomach, and cervical cancers. In fact, the American Cancer Society reports that cervical cancer incidence rates among Hispanic women living in the U.S. are about 70 percent higher than those of non-Hispanic Whites, and the highest rates were found among Hispanic women in the Midwest. Overall, the most common cancers among Hispanics/Latinos are prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers.

These statistics substantiate the critical need to address cancer disparities in local neighborhoods and underscore the Comprehensive Cancer Center’s obligation to reach out to these communities with information, research, and educational programs. Learn more by visiting the pages below: