African Americans & Cancer

Across the country and here in Northeast Ohio, cancer hits especially hard in the black community. In fact, among the four most diagnosed cancers in the country, African Americans in Cuyahoga County have higher death rates than whites.

The causes of health disparities are complex. There are problems with the system of healthcare delivery itself.  Disparity researchers cite a lack of culturally appropriate care as one noted barrier. Issues such as fear and mistrust of the medical system prevent some african americans from seeking and receiving the care they need.

African Americans also have higher rates of poverty. Those who are poor face many obstacles in daily life that may keep them from following through with recommended treatments. The rate of obesity is also higher in the black community. Excess fat is a known risk factor for certain cancers and can make treatment more difficult.

Finally, biology also comes into play. Researchers have discovered genetic differences in certain tumor types among African Americans which may make some cancers more aggressive.

For the next half-hour, we explore this complex array of social and biological factors, through the experiences of local people.

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