Study: African-Americans in county more likely to be diagnosed with cancer

Data looks at African-American, white men, women from 2001 to 2010
Study: African-Americans in county more likely to be diagnosed with cancer
UW Hospital

Startling numbers released Wednesday by the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center focus on the health of African-Americans in Dane County.

The study said African-Americans in Dane County are 30 percent more likely than whites to be diagnosed with cancer, and 56 percent of African-Americans are more likely to die than whites from cancer.

Those are a lot of numbers, but for Erin Bailey, who worked on the study, the cause is personal.

“My mother was diagnosed in 2003 with breast cancer and that is how I started down this path,” said Erin Bailey, who was born and raised in Madison.

Her mother passed away from breast cancer in 2008.

“This has just really fueled my fire,” said Bailey, who is an outreach and education associate working on the study. “You heard these numbers all the time on the national level and it just really inspired me to really do something.”

The study looked at data from African-American and white men and women who were 18 and older from 2001 to 2010. Bailey said where you live, work and play are all factors in your health.

“Madison and Dane County are very behind statewide and also nationwide with other social determinants, so where we live isn’t exactly the greatest place for African-Americans,” Bailey said.

The study said African-Americans were 76 percent more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than whites, and 79 percent of African-American men are more likely to die of prostate cancer. African-American women were 43 percent more likely to die of breast cancer.

“We know women are getting diagnosed less often than their white counterparts, but they are dying more often from that disease,” Bailey said.

She said they are putting the data out there, and they will let the community decide what the discussion should be, but she hopes for a brighter future.

“Every day you have a chance to make a difference, and if I have made the difference in one person’s life each and every day I go to work then I feel like I make a difference in the world,” Bailey said.

Bailey said she hopes the information will not only start the discussion but will be used to support cancer prevention, screening and research projects to reduce this disparity.