African Americans are disproportionately impacted by cancer rates, prevalence, incidents, morbidity and mortality. The National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (2016), identified incarcerated persons as an understudied population for cancer risks and incidents. Further the availability of high quality data about cancer prevalence, incidence and mortality among people who experience incarceration is lacking. African American persons with a history of incarceration are at particular risk for chronic health diseases, cancer risks and health disparities due to their experience of incarceration; discrimination and stigma post-incarceration; personal lifestyle factors; socioeconomic status and, environmental barriers to cancer prevention and control resources. Despite these risk factors scant research has been conducted on risks for cancer health disparities among formerly incarcerated African Americans. This qualitative pilot study explored cancer health disparities among African American men and women (n=25) who were formerly incarcerated in an Illinois prison or the Cook County Jail. Four qualitative focus groups were conducted in Chicago to collect preliminary data on barriers to cancer health care access, screening, and treatment, post-release. The Integrative Model of Behavioral Prediction guided the study. An iterative process of content analysis was used to identify facilitators and barriers to cancer early detection, screening and treatment among the target population. Preliminary analysis revealed five central themes: (1) Increased access to health care through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and County Care motivated active participation in health maintenance routines and cancer early detection, prevention and treatment services; (2) Long wait times for appointments with primary care physicians increased reliance on emergency room visits; (3) Significant insurance and community resource, gaps occur at release and community reentry; (4) Costs for care (co-pays and deductibles, pre and post release) are barriers to routine care and delay urgent care-seeking; and, (5) Cancer health literacy and cancer awareness messages specifically designed for persons who experience incarceration is lacking. Study findings will inform the development of a pilot community health worker training and navigation intervention aimed at increasing access to cancer health care and decreasing cancer health disparities among formerly incarcerated African Americans in Chicago.

Citation Format: Vickii Coffey, Carolyn Rodgers, Shirley Spencer, Joseph Strickland, Mary Muse, Phoenix Alicia Matthews, Catherine Balthazar. Exploring cancer health disparities among formerly incarcerated African Americans [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Twelfth AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; 2019 Sep 20-23; San Francisco, CA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2020;29(6 Suppl_2):Abstract nr C105.