National Minority Cancer Awareness Week: April 16-26

This is National Minority Cancer Awareness Week — time set aside to consider the additional burden that cancer places on minorities in this country.

African Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer, have their cancer found at a later stage, and die of it.  While colorectal cancer incidence and death rates have been decreasing over the past years for white Americans, they have remained flat for both African American men and African American women.

African Americans have less access to life-saving colorectal cancer screening and fewer are screened.

On April 8, 1987, the U. S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 119 designated the third week in April as “National Minority Cancer Awareness Week.” In the Congressional Record, the resolution was intended to draw attention to:

An unfortunate, but extremely important fact about cancer. 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 African Americans are more likely to be low-income and uninsured, these factors are not the only reasons for increased risk.  Even with insurance, rates of diagnosis and death are higher than average.

The American College of Gastroenterology recommends that African Americans begin screening earlier at age 45 and that they use colonoscopy as a screening method because of their higher incidence of right-sided polyps and cancers.

To ensure that every American, no matter what ethnicity, income, age, or insurance status, has coverage for colorectal cancer screening, join the Cover Your Butt Campaign.

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