NEW YORK ( – Lonnie Barton was 51 years old when he died of lung cancer in 2004. According to his sister, Bernadette Barton, 48, he was a strapping 6’ 4” and close to 200 pounds, when all of a sudden he just “fell apart.” She was sitting next to her brother when he took his last breath.

“I cannot understand why my brother–a Marine and an athlete; he was always so active–just withered away and died,” Ms. Barton said. At the time of his death, Mr. Barton was the head golf coach at Long Island University.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) released a report on Apr. 19 which shows that Blacks, who make up 8 percent of the population of 450,000 on Staten Island, “develop cancer less frequently that do White residents,” however, “die from the disease at a higher rate.” According to the ACS, from 1999 to 2003, Blacks on Staten Island had a cancer death rate of 193.7 per 100,000 people, compared to Whites, with a death rate at 192.9 per 100,000.


Ms. Barton and her late brother both grew up on Staten Island, and she admits that she suffered from cancer of the thyroid, which had to be removed in 1993.

The report also suggests that the Staten Island trend mirrors a national trend, which is likely due to a “lower rate of preventive screenings among the Black population.”

New York City health analysts are calling this a “disparity” that may have to do with access to care, which health officials are attributing to Blacks receiving fewer mammograms, colonoscopies and other health-related screenings.

Nationally, the ACS report says that Black Americans “have the highest death rate and shortest survival rate of any racial and ethnic group in the United States for most cancers.” The Cancer Death Rates that ACS estimates for Blacks in 2007 are: Lung Cancer–men, 31 percent; women, 22 percent; Prostate Cancer–13 percent of the Black male population; and Breast Cancer–19 percent of Black female population.

For both Black men and women, cancers of the colon, rectum and pancreas are expected to rank third and fourth as the causes of death.

The ACS states that they rank their percentages based on the U.S. Census Department figures of 39 million Blacks in the U.S. as of 2007. It concludes that the life expectancy is lower for Blacks than Whites, where Black men on average live to be 69.8 years, compared to 75.7 years of age for White men. For Black women, 76.5 years, compared to White women at 80.8 years.

Nearly 152,900 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed amongst Blacks in 2007, with the most common diagnosed cancers being Prostate cancer for Black men at 37 percent; Lung cancer, 15 percent; and colon and rectal cancers at 9 percent.

The NYC chapter of the ACS surprisingly states that even though people of different races have equal incomes and insurance status, they receive “different levels of care.”

“Racial and ethnic minorities tend to receive lower-quality health care than Whites even when insurance status, income, age and severity of conditions are comparable,” NYC’s ACS chapter said in a statement.

According to the ACS, its research shows that “uninsured patients are more likely to be treated for cancer at late stages of disease, and they are more likely to receive substandard care.”

Bob Law, New York State chairman of the Millions More Movement and national radio talk show host, says that Blacks in New York have “no way near the quality of health care” that is needed.

“We don’t have any real hospitals in our communities that can deal with our health needs,” he stressed, and agreed with the ACS reporting that what plagues the Black community in New York and nationally is the “quality of care.”

“We need a national movement that deals with our health issues; and right now that is not happening,” Mr. Law told The Final Call. He said that the Millions More Movement in New York has been working through workshops to get Black people to change their lifestyle, particularly in diet, getting preventive care and just going for annual check-ups.

Mr. Law said that Blacks need to avail themselves of wellness and holistic health care. “Blacks must understand the need to move away from traditional medicine,” he insists, stating that “I know that the drug industry works hard to demonize natural forms of healing, but we need to ignore them.” Mr. Law also agreed that there are inequalities in the way Blacks are treated by the health industry.

The ACS report mentions that the inequalities are “complex and interrelated” at the root, and there is the “impact of racial discrimination.”

Ms. Barton says that she can’t say for sure that race played a factor with her thyroid cancer issues, but notes that one doctor never told her that the lump in her throat needed to be examined; and after she changed doctors, it was discovered that the lump was cancerous. She says that she has good insurance coverage.

A noticeable number of nonprofit organizations, public service agencies, professional associations, and academic centers are reportedly looking into the underlying factors involved in the cancer disparity. One such organization is The Louis Farrakhan Prostate Cancer Foundation (, which will hold its second annual walk-a-thon on October 13, in Atlanta, Ga. Named for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who is a Prostate cancer survivor, the Foundation’s website states that the “Walk-For-Life and Educational Walk-A-Thon” is a special event dedicated to raising awareness around prostate cancer and promoting and encouraging minority students to pursue a career in the medical-field.

The ACS report may be attained by visiting