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Cancer Health Disparities

Cancer affects everyone – but the burden is often much higher in certain ethnic and socioeconomic populations.

According to the National Cancer Institute, death rates from cancer are higher in African Americans, particularly African American males, compared to any other racial or ethnic group. Hispanics and Latinos have the highest rates for cancers associated with infection (such as liver, stomach, and cervical cancers) and are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stages of the most common cancers than non-Hispanic whites.

Through our research, education and outreach programs, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center is committed to reducing these disparities and improving cancer health equity in our community, nationwide, and globally. Our multi-faceted approach includes:

  • Encouraging cancer screening and prevention strategies, e.g., HPV vaccination and smoking cessation, in disproportionately affected communities
  • Communicating the critical importance and supporting the inclusion of minorities in cancer research and clinical trials
  • Designing and conducting large-scale studies to identify key cancer risk factors and the most promising strategies for improving cancer health equity among minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations

Meharry-Vanderbilt-Tennessee State Cancer Partnership

The Meharry-Vanderbilt-Tennessee State Cancer Partnership (MVTCP) brings together members of three institutions to address the disproportionate impact of cancer on minority and/or underserved populations through research, training and community outreach.

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Cancer Health Disparities Events

The goal of this retreat was for colleagues to present their cancer health equity projects or ideas and gain input, create awareness about their work, develop collaborations, and further research in this area.

Presentations Pictures


The Southern Community Cohort Study

sccs logoThe Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS) was established to address many unresolved questions about the root causes of cancer health disparities. This prospective cohort study of approximately 85,000 adults in the southeastern United States has among the highest representation of African Americans among existing U.S. cohorts and a large biorepository poised to address scientific questions about the causes of both common and rare cancers.

Learn more about the SCCS at:



Cancer Health Disparities News

September 25, 2019

Effort seeks to enhance cancer screening for Hispanic/Latina women

Providing access to a culturally appropriate community health worker during breast cancer screenings may impact elements of patient care and satisfaction among Hispanic/Latina women.
September 19, 2019

New telehealth initiative aims to enhance cancer care in rural areas

VUMC is leading an effort to improve cancer care in rural areas with a telehealth initiative supported with a $3.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.
June 29, 2019

Health disparity for blacks exists within lung screening guidelines

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines that determine which smokers qualify for CT scans exclude significant numbers of African Americans who develop lung cancer, a health disparity that merits modifications to lung cancer screening criteria, according to a study from Vanderbilt researchers.