Cancer and American Indians


Indians don’t get it. That is the long-standing belief regarding the American Indians of this country and cancer. Presently, however, confidence in this theory is waning. The incidence of cancer among American Indians is significantly higher than it was twenty years ago. Mortality rates among American Indians remain disproportionate to the US general population. Five-year cancer survivorship, though improving, is still the poorest of all racial groups in the US.
While this picture is presented bleakly, the insurgence of awareness and capacity to address cancer as a growing health concern among American Indian communities is greater than ever. Improved surveillance efforts have resulted in improved documentation of the cancer burden for American Indians.
According to a daily health policy report by the Kaiser Network Organization, overall, American Indians and Alaska Natives have a lower cancer related death rate compared to the general population, 161 per 100,000 verses 205 per 100,000, respectively. But in comparison, the rates to the American Indians living in the Northern Plains region have a much higher rate than the general population, at 292 per 100,000 people. Higher rates of lung, colon and prostate cancers in this area are double those in other American Indian Tribes, the report states (2).

Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan

The Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Cancer Control (CNCCC) Project assists in the development of networks and collaboration that produce an infrastructure for a comprehensive approach to cancer within the Cherokee Nation. Since 2003, coalition members and partners have come together to discuss the burden of cancer in Cherokee Nation. Coalition members and partners include local, regional, state and national representatives committed to identifying areas of cancer concern, planning interventions, prioritizing greatest areas of identified need, and then implementing identified strategies and/or providing needed resources. This is the second edition of the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan and will serve, like the first, as an information resource for health care professionals and community members, as well as a tool for the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition and its respective entities. The coalition is committed to the process of enhancing infrastructure for comprehensive cancer control in the Cherokee Nation with the ultimate goal of reducing morbidity and mortality among the Cherokee community.