2007_4_health_crab.jpgThe American Cancer Society reported yesterday that city minorities are more likely to die from certain types of cancers than other New Yorkers. In addition to the fact that certain malignancies occur more frequently in some ethnicities, the report, issued after a three day conference in New Orleans, shares that minorities are also less likely to get preventative treatment. And the treatment they do receive once diagnosed tends to be less aggressive. This is due to a combination of factors, including language barriers, cultural apprehensions about seeking medical care, and a fear among immigrants that their citizenship status may be called into question if they go the hospital.

"Research continues to show that ethnic minorities, as well as other medically underserved groups, have higher rates of cancer, are less likely to be diagnosed early or receive optimal treatment, and have lower survival rates," said Durado Brooks, MD, MPH, director of prostate and colorectal cancer for the American Cancer Society. "Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons - including access to quality health care - these population groups have not benefited equally from advances in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment."

As a result, blacks are more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group and cancer has been the number one killer of Asian-American women since 1980. Specifically, Asian men are more likely to die from lung and stomach cancer, black men from prostate cancer, and Hispanic women from cervical cancer. To combat this, the American Cancer Society named this past week National Minority Cancer Awareness Week to raise awareness of the problem. In our area. Senator Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) proposed a bill this week that would require health insurance companies to cover colon cancer screenings. He also cites cultural roadblocks that prevent patients from seeing doctors, saying, "Too many men are scared to have their butts checked." While the percentage of uninsured blacks and Hispanics in New York is lower than the national average, it is still higher than in their white counterparts.

The National Cancer Information Center has a hotline (1.800.ACS.2345) that provides cancer prevention, detection, and treatment information in multiple languages. Similar multilingual information is available at www.acs.org.