Minorities and other underserved or vulnerable communities have often experienced both concentrated poverty and isolation from knowledge and resources, and thus we see higher rates of cancer incidences and deaths than from other populations. As we observe the 30th anniversary of National Minority Health Month this April, it is important that we take a look at the health disparities in minority communities and how we can bridge this divide.
Several minority groups in the United States are at a higher risk for being diagnosed with cancer:
- African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival for most cancers. The death rate for all cancers combined is 31% higher in African-American men and 15% higher in African-American women compared to white men and women, respectively.
- As many as 80% of deaths from cervical cancer in African-American women could be prevented by regular screening and adequate patient follow-up and treatment.
- Only 47% of Hispanics 50 years of age and older have undergone colorectal cancer screening, compared to 62% of non-Hispanic whites.
- One in six new cancers in Hispanics, compared to one in 25 new cancers in non-Hispanics, is associated with infectious agents (e.g. HPV).
- Both Asian/Pacific Islander men and women have more than double the incidence of liver & inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) cancer compared to the non-Hispanic white population.
- Asian/Pacific Islander men are twice as likely and Asian/Pacific Islander women are 2.7 times as likely to die from stomach cancer compared to their non-Hispanic white peers.
Although these numbers may paint a dark picture, at ZeroDivide we are working to leverage technology to accelerate social change in underserved communities. Technology in health care, or eHealth, has the potential to reduce persistent health disparities if underserved populations have access to the products they need.
eHealth offers the potential to dramatically increase access to cancer prevention by providing cost effective, accessible and convenient access to knowledge and resources. We are looking forward to working with our partners at the Prevent Cancer Foundation to reduce disparities in health care and increase cancer prevention and early detection among minority groups.
Vanessa Mason (@vanessamason) is the eHealth senior manager at ZeroDivide, where she advises on product development in digital health for the underserved. Vanessa has worked at the intersection of health, tech and social impact throughout her career. She earned her BA from Yale University and her MPH from Columbia University.