*As the nation observes National Minority Cancer Awareness Week (April 18-24), the American Cancer Society wants to raise awareness of cancer in minority communities and encourage year round attention to health in general.

We know that cancer affects minority communities disproportionately, but we are also encouraged by the progress that has been made in the fight against this disease. Our latest Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures reported a steady decline in colon cancer incidence and death rates in most racial/ethnic groups, mostly due to screening and early detection.

However, more work remains in closing the gap between minorities and other segments of the population in cancer diagnosis and treatment. For example, while death rates continue to drop among African Americans, we continue to be diagnosed at more advanced stages and have lower survival rates.

The American Cancer Society wants to help racial/ethnic communities reduce the impact of cancer by: providing resources to help people stay well through prevention and early detection; providing access to information to help people get well; funding groundbreaking research to help find cures; and fighting back through public policy and community mobilization.  

The Society has resources such as the free 24-hour National Cancer Information Center, which can be reached at 1-800-227-2345, can help answer any question about cancer and provide information on what resources exist for free or low cost cancer screenings. Minority populations across the country can access services provided by the American Cancer Society to reduce the burden of cancer in their communities, such as free transportation to and from treatment, counseling groups, and free lodging for patients who have to travel far away to receive treatment. Minority populations can also fight back against cancer by joining Relay For Life® in their communities to raise funds that support more research, and to celebrate those who have survived the disease (visit www.relayforlife.org to sign up).

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the Society’s advocacy affiliate, is also working at the state and federal level to enact responsible, evidenced based legislation and public policies that help reduce disparities in cancer prevention and treatment, and improve access to quality, affordable care for all Americans. ACS CAN supports increased funding for programs such as the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which provides free or low-cost mammograms, Pap tests, and follow-up treatment for the uninsured and underinsured, including racial and ethnic minority women; and the federal Patient Navigator Program, which provides trained patient navigators in minority and other medically underserved communities to help individuals over come barriers to quality health care. More information on ACS CAN efforts can be found at www.acscan.org.

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, about 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.