Minorities disproportionately affected by cancer in Michigan

African-Americans in Michigan have higher cancer rates than any other racial or ethnic group, according to a recent release from the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The cancer rates hold true for most cancers, including breast, cervical, lung and prostate.

Dr. Matthew Davis is the Chief Medical Executive the Michigan Department of Community Health. He said African American’s are less likely to be screened for cancer, which could lead to higher cancer rates among the black community.

“That means that doctors are less likely to know that individuals have cancer, and therefore, are less likely to treat them at the earlier stages of the cancer,” he said.

Dr. Davis said African-Americans tend to have lower screening rates because of a lack of insurance, and a fear of finding cancer. He said because lack of insurance and treatment expenses can frighten people just as the actual disease does.

“What people expect in terms of doing that screening and what they might worry about if they have cancer,” he said. “And one of the problems for the African-American population, is that when you’re diagnosed with cancer as an African-American, you may have less access to top quality care for that cancer.”

Dr. Davis said other racial and ethnic groups, including Hispanics and Native Americans, also have higher rates of cancer compared to the white population in Michigan.