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Cancer and black and minority ethnic communities

Cancer is a serious public health issue in the UK. As the commonest cause of death
in England and Wales (Department of Health 2015), there are an estimated 250,000
cancer diagnoses and 130,000 deaths from cancer annually, costing around £35
billion. It is estimated that 2.5 million people are currently living with cancer in the UK
and this is predicted to rise to 4 million by 2030 (Maddams et al. 2012). Smoking, diet,
alcohol and obesity are seen as being the cause of one third of all cancers. The most
Cancer and black and minority ethnic communities common cancers registered in 2015 were breast, prostrate, lung and colorectal cancers accounting for just over half of all the cancers registered (53%) (Office for National Statistic 2017). There is a greater risk of cancer with age, with fifty percent of all cancer cases in the UK occurring in those aged 70 and over for the period 2012- 2014 (Cancer Research UK 2017).

Key Messages

  • There is a higher incidence of certain cancers in black and minority ethnic
    communities and the general incidence of cancer in these communities is
    rising.
  • Understanding the prevalence and experiences of cancer in black and
    minority ethnic groups is hindered by a lack of data relating to these
    communities.
  • Patients who are members of black and minority ethnic groups report
    more negative experiences of cancer care than white ethnic groups.
  • Health care providers have a poor understanding of the needs of black and
    minority ethnic communities. There is a lack of health education regarding
    cancer and awareness of the availability of support services is limited
    among black and minority ethnic communities. As well as this, there is a
    lack of cultural competence education for health providers, especially in
    cancer awareness.
  • There is clear evidence of a lack of focus, priority and urgency of the cancer
    needs of black and minority ethnic populations in NHS policy documents
    and in NHS cancer data collection exercises.
    In spite of some of these shortcomings, there are several examples of best
    practice, often led by the charitable sector.
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Author(s): Dr Qulsom Fazil
Publisher: Race Equality Foundation
Publication date: July 2018