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As You Observe Black History Month, Take Some Time to Think About Cancer Prevention in the African American Population

February 09, 2017

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In February of each year, Americans celebrate Black History Month, which is a time to honor the achievements of the countless black/African American men and women who have helped to shape our nation’s history. This also provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on different ways to promote unity and equality among all people. One notable area of disparity that receives relatively little attention, however, is the high incidence of cancer among the black/African Americans community.

Experts currently believe that one-half of all black/African American men and one-third of all black/African American women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer at some point during their lifetime. What’s more, black/African American people tend to develop cancer at younger ages, have more aggressive cancers and experience worse outcomes than the general population. While the reasons behind these trends are highly complex and not yet well understood, one concern that has come to light is limited access to lifesaving early detection screenings and high-quality healthcare services.

Given the disproportionately higher cancer burden on the black/African American community, pre-emptive cancer prevention strategies are especially important. Some of these strategies include:

• Learning about and following the guidelines for screening tests that can detect the five most common types of cancer, which are mammograms for breast cancer, Pap smears for cervical cancer, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer, colonoscopies for colon cancer and low-dose CT scanning for individuals who have an elevated risk of developing lung cancer
• Exploring their family medical histories and genetic tendencies by discussing cancer with their family members
• Consuming a nutritious diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in fats and red meats
• Exercising regularly (30 minutes a day of moderate to intense physical activity is ideal)
• Avoiding tobacco products and consuming alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all (no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women)

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we are pursuing research aimed at gaining a better understanding of cancer disparities, and we are working hard to beat cancer among all individuals, once and for all.

Moffitt has recently established the George Edgecomb Society which will underwrite the research and clinical efforts of Moffitt scientists focused on these cancer disparities. The George Edgecomb Society honors the memory of a close friend of H. Lee Moffitt whose 1976 cancer death spurred then-state legislator Moffitt to create what has become the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the state of Florida. More information on the George Edgecomb Society is available at moffitt.org/GES.

If you’d like to take advantage of our extensive cancer prevention and diagnostic services, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online. You are welcome to request an appointment without a referral.