Cancer Occurrence in the North/Northeast Communities of Minneapolis, 2003-2012
A request in February 2016 for cancer rates in several neighborhoods in North and Northeast Minneapolis led to the Minnesota Department of Health analysis of cancer incidence rates and other relevant data from 2003 to 2012 for these communities. While community cancer rates have a high degree of statistical uncertainty and must be interpreted cautiously, such data are also very useful in addressing public concerns over cancer rates in a county or a community by providing a more complete and accurate profile of cancer occurrence.
This MDH analysis found that the North Minneapolis neighborhoods included in ZIP codes 55411 and 55412 had a greater overall cancer incidence when compared to the metro area but did not have a significantly different cancer burden compared to the broader African American community in the metro area. African Americans comprised 8.6 percent of the Twin Cities Metro in 2010 but made up nearly 46 percent of the population in North Minneapolis.
In contrast, the Northeast Neighborhood ZIP codes (55413, 55418) with a racial makeup more similar to the metro area had only had one significantly elevated cancer, liver cancer, among males, when compared to the metro area.
Rates of individual cancer types tend to vary substantially over time within small geographic areas. It is not unusual to find that several types of cancer occurred more or less often than expected within a zip code area over a period of several years. What is noteworthy about these findings is that cancers of several types occurred more often than expected in North Minneapolis, and that numbers of cases were roughly doubled for four of these cancers; liver and larynx in males, and larynx and esophagus in females.
Differences in cancer incidence rates by race, ethnicity, and gender have been well-documented throughout the U.S. as well as in Minnesota. The pattern of rates in the North Minneapolis communities was generally consistent with these known differences. The elevated cancer rates in North Minneapolis are similar to the cancer rates for African Americans in other parts of the Twin Cities metro area, where African Americans have much higher incidence rates of some cancers, such as cervical cancer, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer.
Creating opportunities for health
This finding highlights an opportunity to improve public health prevention efforts because these cancers are associated with well-known, preventable risk factors such as smoking, living in a household with a smoker, alcohol use, obesity, dietary habits, and hepatitis and HPV infection rates.
This analysis demonstrates the need for a cancer reduction approach in the African American community and North Minneapolis that pairs targeted action steps and broader efforts to address social and economic factors. African American and North Minneapolis cancer reduction efforts should focus on increasing access to healthy foods, campaigns to combat hepatitis infection and increase HPV vaccination, smoking prevention, particularly related to menthol cigarettes, and reduced use of alcohol and increased access to chemical dependency treatment. To succeed, these more targeted efforts must occur in a broader context of addressing the complex and longstanding barriers to improving income and education that prevent populations of color and American Indian communities from gaining equal access to opportunities to attain optimal health.
For more information
Download the complete report Cancer Occurrence in the North/Northeast Communities of Minneapolis, 2003-2012 (PDF).
If you have questions about this report, contact: Allan N. Williams, MPH., PhD, Chronic Disease and Environmental Epidemiology 651-201-5905.