April has been designated National Minority Cancer Awareness Month to bring attention to the health disparities that lead to higher rates of cancer in Black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and other communities of color.
According to numbers compiled by the American Cancer Society, for instance:
- Non-Hispanic white females have the highest cancer incidence rates, but non-Hispanic Black females have the highest death rates.
- Non-Hispanic Black females have higher breast cancer mortality rates compared to all other racial/ethnic groups.
- Non-Hispanic Black males face the highest incidence and mortality rates for colorectal cancer compared to other racial/ethnic groups.
- Prostate cancer death rates in non-Hispanic Black males are about twice as high as any other racial/ethnic group.
Some of these disparities are due to genetics, but most are attributable to social determinants of health that make education, screening, and treatment of cancer less accessible to Black and Hispanic populations.
We spoke with Evelinn Borrayo, PhD, associate director of community outreach and engagement for the University of Colorado Cancer Center, about cancer rates in Colorado, why some communities are underserved, and what researchers are doing to help solve the problem.