Did you know that April is National Minority Cancer Awareness Month is every April? If you didn’t, now you do! And it’s up to all of us to bring awareness to not only the increase of certain diseases occurring (like TNBC) in minorities, but also healthcare and wellness disparities that may occur in certain ethnic, income, and gender groups. So, let’s discuss why this month is so important, and why we all need to be aware and pay attention.

What is National Minority Cancer Awareness Month?

Booker T. Washington established National Negro Health Week in 1915, which became National Minority Health Month. Now we have National Minority Cancer Awareness Month, which we honor every April. Unfortunately, the number of new cases of cancer and the outcomes of cancer vary. Racial and ethnic minorities, low-income communities, adolescents, and young adults are more frequently negatively impacted by disparities. “Disparities” are variations that exist among particular population groups, including racial and ethnic minority groups, in the occurrence, frequency, death, and burden of cancer.

Why is this so important?

A wealth of research indicates that racism persists in this nation and has an impact on a person’s ability to live, learn, work, and other aspects of life. It also affects a number of systems, including wealth, education, housing, and yes, even healthcare.

Comparing racial and ethnic minority groups in the US to White groups reveals that these groups have greater rates of illness and death from a variety of diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and cancer. In addition, non-Hispanic/Black Americans have a four-year shorter life expectancy than White Americans.

A study conducted in 2023 revealed that in the global registry, there isn’t a perfect match for 75% of Black Americans, 75% of multiracial Americans, 55% of Latinos and Hispanic Americans, and 60% of Asian Americans. And, more than 60% of patients who identify as members of racial or ethnic minorities and who are over the age of 18 think it is at least somewhat important to see a doctor who is familiar with or understands their culture.

We must address the systems and practices that have led to the generational injustice that has given rise to racial and ethnic health disparities if we are to create a healthier America for all.

What are some disparities in the healthcare system?

Disparities in health care are found throughout the medical system. Minority groups face disproportionate obstacles due to racism and ingrained systematic biases, and their needs can be poorly understood. Those who are without housing and don’t have access to nutritious foods or safety are further disenfranchised by lack of health literacy, language barriers, provider biases, and lack of access to high-quality care.

Some common disparities in the healthcare system include lack of access to quality care, burden of disease, and an increase in mortality rates. While we can’t list them all here, a simple Google search showcases a multitude of ways simply being born in the “wrong place at the wrong time” can affect someone’s health long-term.

People living in rural areas, those from low-income backgrounds, and members of specific racial and ethnic groups frequently encounter obstacles when trying to access health care in the United States. For example, Black Americans had the highest rate of uninsured individuals prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Some studies found that just 1 in 5 people had health insurance. The South and other states with the largest Black American populations have disproportionately higher rates of uninsured citizens. This is mostly because those states have not expanded Medicaid coverage.

As another illustration, many people’s average life expectancy was decreased by COVID-19. Research indicates that the decline is four times greater for Black and Latino populations than for the overall population. Now, while research shows that genetics can play a part in a person’s life expectancy and potential health issues, this doesn’t erase other factors.

Women, particularly women of color, BIPOC, LGBTQ communities, along with low-income communities and those with a lack of access to higher education, suffer greatly in comparison to their White and male counterparts. Their concerns are often dismissed, misdiagnosed, and even ill-treated. This leads to greater mortality rates and fewer issues being resolved, even when they could be.

What can we do about all of this?

Many of us are not doctors, lawyers, politicians, and others in “power”, so what can we do about health disparities? And how can we advocate for ourselves and others who don’t fit into the majority? Well, there are a few things we can do. These include:

  • Raising awareness
  • Advocating for ourselves and those in our communities
  • Increasing health literacy, especially in marginalized communities
  • Holding those in charge accountable for our health and well-being
  • Voting!
  • And so much more

Healthcare organizations should determine which populations are most at-risk and then tailor their support and education initiatives to best serve those populations. In addition to being underrepresented in the healthcare workforce, racial and ethnic groups are less likely to have appropriate access to health resources.

In a similar vein, healthcare professionals are generally less prevalent in rural and low-income communities than in urban and high-income ones. Because they need more options for where to get healthcare, we can all collectively advocate for that. Volunteer and for providers, non-profits, and more and help them provide better care for residents of these high-risk areas by maintaining and strengthening their resources.

Have a loved one that’s a minority? Advocate for them! Whether a friend or family member, advocating collectively strengthens your voice. For example, if you see they aren’t being treated fairly or with the proper care by clinical or hospital staff, speak up and say something. It may just save their life.

More Resources

If you’re looking for more resources to aid in your health care journey, to bring awareness to health disparities, or to help a loved one, there are so many great communities and help out there!

For example, this website discusses Black health care. It includes resources to help you find doctors of color and advocacy groups. This council is all about making changes in the medical field. This is to serve ALL of the community, not just a few people. You can even get involved with the initiatives with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as they have an Office of Minority Health.

There are so many fantastic resources, groups, and communities out there, many of which you may not have known about. That’s why it’s up to all of us to advocate for each other and spread the awareness.

It’s National Minority Cancer Awareness Month – Let’s Talk About It

We hope that one day, there won’t be such a blatant disparity in health care, simply because people are different. We wholeheartedly support National Minority Cancer Awareness Month. But we believe that we can reach the goal of everyone getting equal quality healthcare, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, or anything that makes them who they are. Until that time arrives, we will continue to our support our loved ones and friends throughout the United States, actively advocating for their well being.

*The information provided on this website is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk. The owners, contributors, authors, and publishers of this website are not liable for any losses, injuries, or damages arising from the use of the information on this website.*

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