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Race & Cancer Risk Revisited

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Race & Cancer Risk Revisited

Several days ago I shared my admiration and excitement in meeting Elijah Alexander during the drug company meetings in Boston last month. I have always had questions and concerns about how few African Americans I would see at Mayo Clinic or in cancer support groups I have attended over the years. Here is the first of a two part series I ran in March on our blog:

Discussing race is always a touchy subject, especially when the writer is a white, middle class male from the Midwest! But I read an article today about the high rate of prostate cancer in black males and it triggered lingering questions I have had for years. Where are all of these black cancer patients? Let me explain. I live just across the Wisconsin/Minnesota border in a rural bedroom community about one hour from downtown Minneapolis. There are very few African Americans living in this area. However, I attend multiple myeloma support group meetings in Stillwater, Minnesota, a suburb of the Twin Cities, and St. Paul, where there are significant numbers of African American residents. I have received treatment in a number of suburban locations as well as downtown St. Paul. I have spent weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, one of the best known multiple myeloma treatment centers worldwide. African Americans, especially African American males, are by far the highest risk group for multiple myeloma. Yet I have never seen a black person at any support group meeting or at any myeloma seminar. I can count on one hand the number of African Americans I have ever seen in a Mayo Clinic waiting room. I have met myeloma patients there from all over the country and the world. A cardiologist who traveled from Dallas to have his stem cells harvested at Mayo. Patients from Asia, Europe, the Middle East. Where are all of the African American patients? My speculative answers to these questions tomorrow.

Feel good and keep smiling! Pat