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International Thursday, 4 March, 1999, 17:17 GMT
Black Americans adversely hit by cancer
African Americans are more likely to get treatment later than whites
The number of Americans contracting cancer is falling - but only among whites, says a report.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says incidences of breast cancer in young women, lung cancer in men and bowel cancer in men and women are falling.

But only among white people. African Americans have the highest rates of cancer in the USA.

They are also more likely to die of cancer than any other ethnic group.

In some cases, black Americans are less likely to contract cancer than whites - for example, black women have a lower incidence of breast cancer - but are more likely to die.

But for prostate cancer black men are one and a half times more likely to contract cancer and twice as likely to die from it.

'Disconcerting'

Launching its annual report, Dr Charles McDonald, president of the ACS, said: "Rather than being encouraging, these new figures are quite disconcerting."

US breast cancer rates are falling - but only for white women
The ACS says black Americans may be more likely to suffer from cancer for a variety of reasons, including the fact that their cancers are generallly diagnosed at a later stage than whites and so are more difficult to treat.

Socioeconomic disadvantages also play a role, with people from more deprived communities being less likely to seek medical care because they may not have health insurance or be able to afford the cost of travelling to the doctor.

Lifestyle may play a part.

Using figures from the National Cancer Institute and Census data, the ACS predicts that there will be 1.2 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in 1999 and that 563,000 Americans will die of the disease.

Prostate cancer is expected to be the most common cancer. Around 179,300 men are expected to be diagnosed in 1999.

It is closely followed by lung and breast cancer.

However, lung cancer is expected to be the biggest killer and to account for more than a quarter of all deaths.

Prostate cancer will kill an estimated 37,000 and breast cancer around 43,700 people.

Statistics

Other projected figures are that:

  • There will be 129,400 new cases of bowel cancer in 1999 and 56,600 deaths;
  • Stomach cancer will be diagnosed in 21,900 people and will kill 13,500;
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma will be diagnosed in 56,800 people and kill 25,700;
  • Melanoma (skin cancer) will be diagnosed in 44,200 people and kill 7,300;
  • Pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed in 28,600 people and kill a similar number;
  • Brain tumours will be diagnosed in 28,600 people and kill a similar number;
  • Leukaemia will be diagnosed in 30,200 and kill 22,100.

Cancer is the second biggest killer in the USA, after heart disease.

In the UK, statistics are not kept on how cancer affects different ethnic groups.

"It is an area where information is poor," said a spokeswoman for the Thames Cancer Registry.

See also:

23 Sep 98 | Medical notes
09 Mar 99 | Medical notes
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