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New cancer cases are projected to surpass 2 million in 2024 – a first in for the U.S., according to American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2024 report.
The landmark projection amounts to 5,500 diagnoses a day.
The American Cancer Society attributes the rise in cases to a growing and aging population along with an increase in diagnoses of six common cancers – breast, prostate, endometrial, pancreatic, kidney, and melanoma.
In addition, the organization is projecting over 611,000 deaths from cancer in 2024, a .19% increase from 2023. That is more than 1,600 deaths each day!
While cancer is prevalent across people of all races, ethnicities, ages, genders, and backgrounds, it disproportionately continues to affect people of color, such as Latinos.
Cancer in Latinos
Cancer is a top cause of death for Latinos.
The most prominent forms of cancer burdening Latinos are infectious ones such as cervical cancer, which is 35% higher in Latino women than white women.
However, Latinos also have some of the lowest rates of common cancers like female breast, colorectum, lung, and prostate. Still, Latinos face disparities in early detection and survival for many of these cancers.
Causes of Cancer in Latinos
The inequities found in cancer rates across the spectrum of race/ethnicity have a root in the systemic challenges that prevent minority populations from receiving quality healthcare.
For example, Latinos are disproportionately impacted by cancer due to systemic health inequities, such as unstable housing, transportation challenges, and lack of access to healthy food and safe places for physical activity.
“These populations have been subject to racial discrimination for hundreds of years. The resulting inequality in wealth has resulted in less access to fresh food, safe places to live and exercise, and receipt of high-quality cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment,” ACS researcher Rebecca Siegel said.
Latinos make up 19.1%of the American population.
But 17% of Latinos live below the poverty line.
This is a stark contrast to the 9% of whites living below the poverty line, despite being the majority population in the U.S.
When factoring in the use of government assistance, Latinos are 3% to 14% more impoverished in absolute terms than whites, the report said.
Lack of health insurance has also created barriers for marginalized populations, such as Latinos, seeking cancer care.
The National Health Interview Survey estimates 28 million people were uninsured at some point in 2022, and in 2021 Latinos were among the highest uninsured populations at 34%.
In combination, systemic health inequities make it hard for Latinos to receive timely cancer diagnoses and care. They are often diagnosed when cancer has reached a more advanced stage, which costs more time and money.
Reducing Healthcare Inequities and Cancer
The American Cancer Society identified several opportunities to reduce healthcare inequities.
To address cancer inequities, the American Cancer Society provides information and resources in multiple languages, including Spanish, and works to eliminate some of the barriers associated with getting quality care, such as lodging and transportation.
Part of ending cancer inequities is advocating for change.
The American Cancer Society continues to fight for access to affordable and equitable treatment for all by working with states to expand Medicaid eligibility and advocating for the removal of cancer detection and prevention copays, and actively campaigns for clinical trial participation from underrepresented populations.
Another key is improving access to healthcare, including the expansion of online health systems and tools like telehealth, which has the power to bring healthcare to rural areas.
“Evidence-based health equity principles are the foundation of everything we do as we work to eliminate barriers and ensure everyone has the same opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer,” the organization declared.
Learn more about the American Cancer Society’s advocacy work and initiatives here.
You Can Do Your Part to Fight Cancer
Clinical trial participation can improve cancer outcomes among Latinos and all people.
Clinical trials help researchers better understand, manage, and create effective treatments for diseases, such as cancer.
That is why Dr. Amelie Ramirez, leader of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, is creating new ways to urge Latinos to volunteer for clinical trials thanks to a grant from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.
On the Salud America! website, Ramirez is showcasing open clinical trials.
For example, the Avanzando Caminos Clinical Trial is seeking Latino cancer survivors to help unpack the social, cultural, behavioral, mental, biological, and medical influences on post-cancer life. Other open trials cover bladder cancer, genetic screening, and more.
Lopez believes participating in a clinical trial at UT Health San Antonio helped her get better treatment and better long-term health.
“Clinical trials are great for finding new treatments that help people,” Lopez said. “And it helps the scientists. It gives opportunity to better medication for all populations.”
Visit UT Health San Antonio’s Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases website to view their available clinical trials and eligibility requirements.
Search the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio’s Find a Clinical Trial database to learn more about available clinical trials and eligibility requirements.