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Minority Health

Black Americans have more problems with disease than do other ethnic groups.  Their problems include both the prevalence of certain medical conditions as well as difficulties with diagnosis and treatment. 

A number of diseases affect black Americans more than the rest of the population.  Diseases such as obesity, hypertension, coronary vascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer are more prevalent, says Dr. Wesley McNeese, associate professor of internal medicine at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  He explains how one cancer is more severe in African-Americans.

SOUND BITE: “ . . . within black populations, breast cancer that is detected tends to be more virulent and they tend to die as a result of it.  . . .  (3:59)  It affects them at an earlier age, like before the age of 40, whereas with whites, it’s usually after the age of 40.  Many times the treatment modalities that are used don’t work for members of the black population.”

Dr. McNeese says most cancers in African-Americans are generally discovered at more advanced stages.  In addition, he explains health disparities and how blacks are subject to those differences.

SOUND BITE:  “Sometimes diseases affects them more frequently, sometimes more intensely and sometime different groups have more deaths as a result of the same disease.  But also health disparities have a definition of uneven treatment, so there’s an uneven or unequal treatment that is given to certain groups. ”

Dr. McNeese encourages black Americans to be more proactive in their health care.  He says they should educate themselves about their health care needs, seek out a personal physician and take advantage of the various health screenings offered in their communities.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.