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Minority Populations Lag on Cancer Detection and Treatment

April 19, 2010

PIERRE, S.D. - For most Americans, wellness maintenance is as easy as making an appointment with their health care provider or just visiting a clinic in a retail store. For many, however, health care - especially preventive care - is out of reach, especially for minority people.

During National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, Roberta Cahill with the South Dakota Chapter of the American Cancer Society warns that minorities in South Dakota have even more challenges when it comes to cancer screening and detection.

"The disparity exists for individuals who have inadequate health insurance, lack education, are rural or inner city residents or suffer from unemployment or poverty. Language barriers in many instances are a contributing factor, as well."

The lack of access and facilities that minorities face often leads to late detection and treatment of cancer, Cahill says.

"When you don't have screening programs and so forth available, or accessible, then patients are not able to use those. If they eventually do, and they are diagnosed at a later stage, then chances are their survival rate becomes much less."

Cahill adds that it is frustrating, because many of the cancers seen in minorities could be successfully treated.

"Depending on the cancer, we minorities may have a lower rate of incidence, meaning we don't get it as often. However, because we have later-stage diagnosis, chances are we die more often."

Cahill, who is Lakota, says a colon cancer brochure has been written specifically for Native Americans and a breast cancer DVD was produced in South Dakota last year using an all-Native-American cast. The American Cancer Society is also partnering for research and outreach tailored to minorities.


Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD