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Cancer Death Rates Among Black People Declined Over Time, Remains Higher Than Other Racial and Ethnic Groups

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From 1999 to 2019, rates of cancer deaths declined steadily among Black people in the United States. Nevertheless, in 2019, Black people still had considerably higher rates of cancer death than people in other racial and ethnic groups, a large epidemiologic study has found. The study was led by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, and the findings appeared May 19 inĀ JAMA Oncology.

Researchers used death certificate data from the National Center for Health Statistics to analyze age-adjusted cancer death rates by age, sex, and cancer site among non-Hispanic Black people ages 20 and older in the United States. They then compared cancer death rates in 2019 among Black men and women with those in other racial and ethnic groups.

Between 1999 and 2019, more than 1 million Black men and women ages 20 and older died of cancer. During that period, cancer death rates among this group decreased by 2% per year, with a more rapid decrease among men (2.6% per year) than women (1.5% per year).

Death rates declined for most cancer types; the most rapid decreases were in lung cancer among men (3.8% per year) and stomach cancer among women (3.4% per year). However, over the same 20-year period, deaths from liver cancer increased among older Black men and women and deaths from uterine cancer increased among Black women.

In their comparison of cancer death rates among racial and ethnic groups in 2019, the researchers found that Black men and women had higher rates of cancer death, both overall and for most cancer types, than white, Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic/Latino men and women.

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