State health officials want minorities to know about their cancer risks.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services aims to educate the public about certain health challenges, including the disparities among racial and ethnic groups.
“So one of our challenges is that we know that rates of many kinds of cancer are higher among communities of color – African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic, Asians – than they are for our White populations.”
Health Secretary Karen Timberlake explains, this week – Minority Cancer Awareness Week – is designated specifically for awareness and education.
“It gives us an opportunity to say, 'Hey if you're a person of color in our state and you haven't recently gone in for a preventive cancer screening, you know a breast exam, a colonoscopy, any of those things, while it's never anybody's favorite thing to do necessarily, it really is important.”
In particular, Timberlake says, minority groups are disproportionately at risk for LUNG cancer. About 30% of African Americans smoke compared to 18.8% of the white population. She says tobacco use and exposure are responsible for more than 85% of lung cancer cases in the U.S.
Timberlake says it's important for everyone in Wisconsin to get preventive cancer screenings, and smokers can get help quitting by calling 1-800-quit-now.
Senator Glenn Grothman had said we don't need Minority Cancer Awareness Week; awareness for everyone should suffice.