February: Celebrating Black History Month and National Cancer Prevention Month

February 10, 2015

Did You Know…

– cancer is the second leading cause of death for African-Americans?

– three of the five most common cancers for African-Americans are preventable in most cases?

– the lifetime probability of dying from cancer is about 1 in 4 for African-American men and 1 in 5 for African-American women?

– the African-American population suffers from the highest cancer death rates of all minority groups in the United States?

February is both Black History Month and National Cancer Prevention Month, and a perfect time to shed some light on how to reverse the trend of the African-American population suffering with the highest cancer death rates of all minority groups.

Prostate, lung and colorectal are the leading types of cancer diagnosed in African-American men, and breast, lung and colorectal are the leading cancers for African-American women. One in two African-American men will be diagnosed with cancer in his lifetime and one in three African-American women will be diagnosed. Not only is the incidence rate higher in this community, but the death rate is also higher due to the late stage of diagnosis for most African-American patients.

It remains unclear why cancer rates are so high among African-Americans; there is no conclusive evidence determining whether it’s due to limited access to healthcare or biological makeup. Yet, you can make a difference. Get yourself and loved ones screened, because cancer can affect anyone.

While you learn and explore black history this February, it is equally important to learn about your personal and family medical history. Take this opportunity to ask your parents or relatives about cancer trends in your family. Genetics play a huge role in your risk for cancer; the best way to prevent cancer is to know what you’re up against. Use this chart to learn your family medical history and share it with your health care professional, who will ensure you receive the appropriate screenings. Also share it with other family members to encourage them to get screened.

What are the best ways to prevent cancer? Follow the Seven Steps to Prevent Cancer. Two of the most preventable cancers, lung and colorectal, have a devastating impact on the African-American population. Celebrate Black History Month and National Cancer Prevention Month the right way by eating healthy, staying active, not using tobacco and learning about your family medical history.

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