Cancer is an illness caused by an abnormal growth of cells in the body. In the UK, someone is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes, and there are 293,000 cases of cancer every year. Access to cancer services including treatment, care and support is vital to mitigating the effects of any form of cancer, but there are inequalities in the delivery and take up of cancer services, particularly by minority ethnic groups including African communities.
- Breast cancer is more common among African women than white women, and research has shown that African women between the ages of 15-64 years have significantly poorer survival rates.
- Evidence also shows that African women develop breast cancer 10-20 years earlier than white women.
- In the UK studies have shown that men of African descent have approximately two to three times the risk of being diagnosed or dying from prostate cancer than white men.
- These increased rates are likely to be due a mixture of hereditary and lifestyle factors.
The disproportionate levels of breast and prostate cancer in people of African origin warrant a specific, targeted and immediate response. Many of the risk factors for cancer, such as poor diet, are linked to wider inequalities – economic, social and health, and therefore addressing cancer in the African community needs to be linked with addressing these wider inequalities.