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As cancer research continues to evolve and technologies advance, those developments can often be slower in the Black community, creating health disparities. Cancer death rates in minority communities tend to be higher compared to those in other races for many reasons. These factors can include environmental, behavioral, social and clinical.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, supported by funding through the George Edgecomb Society, researchers are studying cancer health disparities, which was the topic for the Cancer in the Black Community virtual event.

Nearly 200 society members and community supporters joined for the Cancer in the Black Community research presentation. Moffitt’s top researchers and leaders gave participants an update on the work happening within the cancer center. The update focused on prostate, pancreatic and ovarian, which are cancers that have a disproportionate impact on Blacks.

Dr. B. Lee Green, vice president of Moffitt Diversity, Public Relations and Strategic Communications

Dr. B. Lee Green, vice president of Moffitt Diversity, Public Relations and Strategic Communications

“The Cancer in the Black Community event reflects the priority that Moffitt has set on addressing the issue of cancer health disparities,” said Dr. B. Lee Green, vice president of Moffitt Diversity, Public Relations and Strategic Communications. “Moffitt has committed to addressing this issue through vital research and community engagement.”

Participants learned that while the overall gap in disparities has shrunk over the last few decades, going from 33% in 1990 to 14% in 2016, there is still much progress needed.

One of the ways Moffitt is tackling this issue is through increasing research in cancers that disproportionately impact black men such as prostate cancer and introducing more clinical trials. This is due to black men being twice as likely to die from prostate cancer and less inclined to participate in clinical trials. 

The cancer center will also be increasing diversity among its research faculty and creating more community outreach programs geared toward minority communities.

Tampa Bay Buccaneer William Gholston attended the event where he was recognized for his recent gift of $225,000 to the George Edgecomb Society to study disparities in breast, colon and prostate cancers. This gift will further accelerate progress in closing health disparities in the Black community.

Supporters also heard a testimonial from Moffitt Hospital Board and George Edgecomb Society member, Lanse Scriven where he shared his personal story with prostate cancer and why he is now an advocate and George Edgecomb Society supporter.

“Before I became a patient, I would always hear, one in seven men will be affected by prostate cancer. It really didn’t resonate until I became the one—and for black men the ratio is even lower,” said Scriven. “It warms my heart to know that there is real care and momentum at Moffitt and they are bringing the issue of health care disparities to the forefront.”

Since 2017, when the George Edgecomb Society was founded, six pilot projects spearheaded by Moffitt investigators have been funded for a total of $400,000. The society continues to raise funds to support research that will someday close the gap on health disparities. 

For more information about the George Edgecomb Society or to donate, click here.