National Minority Cancer Awareness Week

The week of April 15-21, 2013, is recognized as National Minority Cancer Awareness Week.

On April 8, 1987, the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 119 designated the third week in April as “National Minority Cancer Awareness Week.” As explained in the Congressional Record, the resolution drew attention to “an unfortunate, but extremely important fact about cancer. While cancer affects men and women of every age, race, ethnic background, and economic class, the disease has a disproportionately severe impact on minorities and the economically disadvantaged.”

National Minority Cancer Awareness Week promotes increased awareness of prevention and treatment among those segments of the populations that are at greater risk of developing cancer. The week’s emphasis gives social workers, physicians, nurses, health care professionals and researchers an opportunity to focus on high-risk populations and to develop creative approaches to battling cancer problems unique to these communities.
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer death rates for women are highest among blacks, followed by whites, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders.

The Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) has compiled cancer statistics among Asian Americans:

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death for female Asian Americans. In fact, Asian American females are the first American population to experience cancer as the leading cause of death.
  • Cancer has been the number one killer of Asian American women since 1980.
  • Vietnamese men have the highest rates of liver cancer for all racial/ethnic groups.
  • The incidence of liver cancer in Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese populations are 1.7 to 11.3 times higher than rates among White Americans.
  • Korean men experience the highest rate of stomach cancer of all racial/ethnic groups, and a five-fold increased rate of stomach cancer over White American men.
  • Filipinos have the second poorest five-year survival rates for colon and rectal cancers of all US ethnic groups (second to American Indians).

Colon cancer death rates for both black and white Americans have begun to drop in recent years, but the disease continues to kill more African Americans than whites for reasons that are not completely understood. This unequal burden is substantial: colon cancer death rates are about 40% higher for blacks than whites – but health experts suggest that many deaths could be prevented in the future with more widespread use of colon cancer tests today. This elevated cancer risk – and the need for all Americans to begin colon cancer tests by age 50 – are in the spotlight during National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, April 15-21.NASW joins the American Cancer Society in this awareness campaign. For more information on minority cancer awareness provided by the CDC go to: For additional information provided by the ICC go to:

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