Why Are Black Americans More Likely to Die from Cancer?

When it comes to cancer deaths, the latest research brings good news and bad news. The good news, which is certainly worth celebrating, is that the number of people dying from cancer is steadily dropping, a full 26 percent lower rate than existed in the early 1990s.

The bad news is that African Americans are dying at a higher rate than white patients with cancer. That disparity indicates that, despite the advancements in medicine, access to this improved health care isn’t equitable, reports Mother Jones.

The mortality rate is telling: black Americans under the age of 65 have a 31 percent higher rate of death than white Americans. Although the odds of black Americans surviving cancer have increased along with white Americans over the past couple decades, the difference still exists.

Take breast cancer as an example. Black women develop breast cancer at comparable if not slightly reduced rates as white women, yet they’re more likely to die from it anyway. Per the Cancer Network, racial disparity is noticeable when it comes to colon cancer and ovarian cancel, as well.

From research, the biggest reason for the survival inconsistency by race seems to be access to health care. For decades, affordable insurance has been elusive to certain communities. Even for certain communities with coverage, the quality of hospitals and treatments isn’t always the same as those available to those in well-to-do and/or white communities.

The statistics support this theory about health insurance, particularly when you look at the age discrepancy among black cancer survivors. Whereas the difference in survival rate between whites and blacks is most pronounced for middle-aged patients with cancers, black senior citizens are only slightly less likely to survive than elderly whites. A lot of that can be attributed to the fact that the nation’s oldest members are eligible for Medicaid or Medicare.

However, cancer research is not exhaustive enough to rule out factors other than insurance playing a role, such as genetics and the types of environments in which African Americans reside. Doctors and scientists believe that those sorts of variables must matter somewhat, even if the extent is unclear.

Fortunately, at least where insurance is concerned, African Americans have a lot better access to health coverage than they did in years passed. Thanks to Obamacare, over 90 percent of all black women are insured, which should go a long way toward providing preventative care and early diagnoses to this at-risk population.

From there, it’ll be up to the larger medical institution to ensure that treatment methods that have been proven successful in white communities. It’s a problem that can – and should – be solved.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

thanks for sharing

Just Human
Just Human9 months ago

In the US life and death decisions are often based on profits. If you can pay then you get every test and first class treatment. If you can't tough luck. It's a heartless system especially when it comes to children. How about we spend less on on bombers and more on health care.

Maureen G
Maureen G9 months ago

I live in Queensland Australia and have private health insurance (paid by the person not by the place where you work) which should enable one to afford to go to hospital and have care/operation etc. However, the gap fee the doctors charge between what the insurance pays out to what they charge for their services is getting so large that health insurance is often useless. Thank goodness we have a free hospital system available to all. The only advantages the private has over the public is that you get the doctor of your choice and often get hospitalisation quicker.

Danii P
Past Member 9 months ago

Thank you

Toni W
Toni W9 months ago


Toni W
Toni W9 months ago

Cancer does not discriminate - nor should HEALTHCARE!!!

silja s
silja salonen9 months ago

every person is entitled to quality healthcare ... everyone !

Shirley S
Shirley S9 months ago

Healthcare is necessary for all people.

Winn A
Winn A9 months ago


Cathy B
Cathy B9 months ago

Thank you for posting.