National Minority Cancer Awareness Week
For the past twenty-nine years, the third week in April has been designated as National Minority Cancer Awareness Week. This year, it runs April 10 through April 16. The importance of this week is well explained in the Congressional Record, “While cancer affects men and women of every age, race, ethnic background, and economic class, the disease has a disproportionately severe impact on minorities and the economically disadvantaged.”
Although the overall exposure to cigarette smoke is LOWER for males of African descent, the age adjusted incidence rate of lung cancer is 32% HIGHER than males of European descent.
We have been told many times over that smoking is the leading cause for lung cancer. But the statistic above and many others raise concerns. One concern is that cancer fear and fatalism tend to be higher in minorities which can delay a person from visiting the doctor. When the person does go, cancer is usually in more advanced stages making it more difficult to treat than catching the cancer sooner. The Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina’s 2015-2016 Research Fellow Grant recipient Dr. Sarah Ellen Stephens has this to say:
Low-dose CT screening has been shown to be effective in diagnosing lung cancer at an earlier stage and reducing mortality in appropriately selected patients. Unfortunately, the study that was done had low participation from minority groups (racial, ethnic, socioeconomic), who often have higher morbidity and mortality associated with lung cancer diagnoses. Prior studies have shown that minority groups have lower rates of utilization of available cancer screening tests such as mammography and colonoscopy.
Dr. Stephens is currently doing a research project to better understand community, and more specifically minority perceptions about lung cancer screening and barriers to undergoing screening. If you are a current or former smoker, age 55-80, or you know of someone who is, then please complete the survey at http://j.mp/1MK1ru7. A $10 gift card will be provided as a token of appreciation for completed responses.
Cynamon Frierson is the Communications and Marketing Manager for the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina. She is passionate about making improvements to the way lung cancer is perceived. When she is not working, she enjoys traveling to different countries and running in various races from 5Ks to marathons.