Cancer states that “African Americans have a higher cancer burden and face greater obstacles to cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survival. In fact, Black people have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial/ethnic group for most cancers.”

Cancer represents the collection of diseases related to the spreading and unusual dividing of human cells (National Cancer Institute). The human body is made up of cells. These cells grow and divide to form new cells when needed (National Cancer Institute). When cells are cancerous, they do not follow this growth pattern, instead continuing to grow and divide, usually forming a solid tumor of tissue (National Cancer Institute). There are over 100 types of cancer including breast cancer, lung cancer, multiple myeloma and prostate cancer (National Cancer Institute).

An image of a doctor holding a patients hand.

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer is the second most common cancer in women, usually forming in lumps in the cells of the breasts (Mayo Clinic). While Black women are diagnosed with breast cancer slightly less often than white women, Black women are significantly more likely, 42%, to die from breast cancer than white women (Sisters Network). The 5-year survival rate for white women with breast cancer is 91%, but only 81% for Black women with breast cancer (Sisters Network).

Additional Resources:

  • Touch: The Black Breast Cancer Alliance
  • FDA: Mammograms
  • FDA: Mammography Saves Lives
  • Sisters by Choice
  • Tigerlily Foundation
  • My Style Matters

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is divided into two main types – non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) (American Cancer Society). The majority of lung cancer cases are NSCLC, but regardless of the type, the cancer usually begins in the tubes that connect your windpipe and the lungs, or the bronchi (American Cancer Society). The third most common cancer in men and women, about 1 in 15 men, and 1 in 17 women will develop lung cancer in their lifetime (American Cancer Society). The chances for Black men specifically are 15% higher for developing lung cancer (American Cancer Society).

Additional Resources:

elderly african american man and caring young caregiver at home

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer formed in white blood cells called plasma cells (Mayo Clinic). The cancerous plasma cells grow in the bone marrow, ousting healthy blood cells causing complications like bone problems, infections, anemia and reduced kidney function (Mayo Clinic). Black Americans, especially Black men, develop multiple myeloma at 2 times the rate of white Americans (Even the Odds).

HEAL Partnership events:

Community Conversations: African Americans and Multiple Myeloma in partnership with Community of Faith, Amgen, and MD Anderson Cancer Center

Multiple Myeloma Lunch & Learn Wellness Wednesday event in partnership with New Salem Baptist Church, Community of Caring, Amgen and

Additional Resources:

  • International Myeloma Foundation: African- American Initiative
  • Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation: MM in African Americans

Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer refers to cells in the prostate growing out of control (American Cancer Society). About 1 in 8 US men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes, but when caught early, the 5-year survival rate is nearly 99% (Prostate Cancer Foundation). Black men are more 1.8 times more prone to prostate cancer, and 2.2 times more prone to dying from prostate cancer than white men (ZERO Cancer).

Additional Resources:

  • MedPage Today: Prostate Cancer and Race
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: What Black Men Should Know About Prostate Cancer
  • New Life Church: Health, Healing & Spirit Online Experience