From OHC

February 27, 2024

February is both National Cancer Prevention Month and Black History Month.  While we pay tribute to the amazing men and women who helped shape our country, it is also important that we acknowledge the disparity in cancer rates between the African American community and other ethnic groups.  According to the National Cancer Institute, “From 1999 to 2019, rates of cancer deaths declined steadily among Black people in the United States, however, black people still have considerably higher rates of cancer death than people in other racial and ethnic groups.”  Black men and women are also at a higher risk of developing certain cancer types, finding cancer in the later stages, and dying from cancer because of socioeconomic, environmental, and genetic factors that may limit their access to healthcare.  Understanding how to reduce the risk of cancer can provide the black community with more power to fight the disease.

Understanding the Disparity

Several cancers are linked to a higher incidence in the black community, including:

  • Breast cancer: African American women are more commonly diagnosed in the later stages and with more aggressive types of breast cancer, including triple-negative.
  • Lung cancer: Because of the higher use of tobacco by black men compared to white men, they are significantly more likely to develop lung cancer.
  • Colorectal cancer: Black men and women are more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and are 40% more likely to die from it than any other racial group.
  • Prostate cancer: Black men are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with and 2.1 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than white men.

Taking Control of Your Health

Knowing these challenges is only the first step. Here are some actions you can take to lower your cancer risk:

  • Do You Have a Healthcare Provider: Every individual should establish a relationship with a family doctor or advanced practice provider. Yearly check-ups and reporting any new or unusual symptoms is the first step to identifying disease early when treatment may be most successful.
  • Prioritize Preventive Care: Regular checkups and screenings are vital for early detection and improved treatment outcomes. Visit our screening guidelines to learn when and what screenings you should be doing.
  • Be Aware of Signs and Symptoms: Have you noticed you’re excessively tired? Are you losing weight without trying? Be aware of the symptoms of breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer so you can contact your healthcare provider at the first sign of a problem.
  • Educate Yourself and Others: Knowledge is power. Understanding and sharing your family history, knowing your genetic risks, and advocating for equitable healthcare access within your community are crucial steps toward positive change.
  • Embrace Healthy Habits: Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking and alcohol are crucial for overall well-being and cancer prevention.
  • Vaccinations: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, head and neck cancer, vagina, vulva, and anal cancer. The Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for every adult and may help prevent liver cancer.
  • Protect Yourself from Environmental Toxins: Limit exposure to secondhand smoke, and air and water pollution by using air purifiers, filtering water, and choosing healthy, locally sourced food whenever possible.

OHC: Empowering You to Break the Cycle

At OHC, we believe in empowering our community with knowledge and offering personalized solutions to combat cancer.

Schedule your next checkup, join a cancer awareness event, and share your voice. Together, we can empower our communities to know the risks and start the screenings early to stop cancer in its tracks.

To schedule an appointment, request a second opinion, or to learn more about OHC, visit ohcare.com.

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