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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

June 16, 2021

VUMC joins national effort to improve disease prediction in diverse populations

Vanderbilt University Medical Center will participate in a new federal initiative aimed at improving the use of polygenic risk scores (PRS) to predict complex diseases in diverse populations.
April 22, 2021

New recommendations focus on breast health disparities

A team of Vanderbilt radiologists has published a manuscript in the Journal of Breast Imaging with recommendations for providing equitable breast care to an increasingly diverse population in the United States.
May 6, 2021

IMPACT research grants to help underserved patients access clinical trials

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) announced today the launch of IMPACT (Influential Medicine Providing Access to Clinical Trials) research grants to increase enrollment of individuals from underrepresented communities in clinical trials. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is leading one of the first three projects to receive IMPACT funding.