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Celebrating Black History & Looking Forward

Adam Murphy, MD
Adam Murphy, MD

As we celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans during Black History Month, we recognize the vital importance of efforts to improve cancer health equity and access to high-quality care.

Did you know?

  • Half of African-American men and a third of African-American women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes.
  • African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers.
  • African American men have the highest risk of developing prostate cancer, and the death rate for prostate cancer is higher than any other racial or ethnic group in the nation.

Research led by Lurie Cancer Center member, Adam Murphy, MD, provides a major link between low levels of vitamin D and aggressive prostate cancer. The relationship may explain some disparities seen in prostate cancer, especially among African American men.  “Men with dark skin, low vitamin D intake or low sun exposure should be tested for vitamin D when they are diagnosed with an elevated PSA or prostate cancer,” Murphy said. “Then a deficiency should be corrected with supplements. 

In addition, Dr. Murphy’s community-based participatory research is focused on efforts to improve prostate cancer screening rates among African American men.

You can make a difference.

Clinical trials examine new treatments, prevention strategies, and diagnostic techniques to determine if they are safe, effective, and better than the current standard of care (the best known treatment). Virtually every cancer treatment available today is the direct result of clinical research.

Clinical trials may offer a more effective alternative to conventional treatments, or one that is likely to cause fewer side effects. They may also provide new options for patients who no longer benefit from standard therapies.

Research has confirmed that people from different races and ethnicities have differences in the ways they are affected by cancer and the way they respond to treatments. It is critical that people of different races and ethnicities participate in clinical trials to help researchers identify the best possible treatment options.

  • Ask your doctor if a clinical trial is right for you. If you are interested in learning more, contact our Clinical Trials Outreach and Education Specialist at 312.695.1102 or cancertrials@northwestern.edu to discuss your options.

(Last updated on February 3, 2017 )