Just the Facts: Cancer Screening Disparities Among American Indian and Alaska Native People

April 25, 2024

In 2020, an estimated 9.7 million people identified as American Indian and Alaska Native, representing about 3% of the U.S. population.[i] Nationally, American Indian and Alaska Native people have the highest incidence of and mortality from cancers of the colorectum, kidney, liver, and lung and bronchus than any population.[ii],[iii] American Indian and Alaskan Native people have the highest incidence rates for cervical cancer and American Indian and Alaska Native people and Black people have the highest cervical cancer mortality rates.ii


Early detection of cancer through screening can improve survival and reduce mortality by detecting cancer at an early stage when treatment is more effective, and in the case of cervical and colorectal cancers, prevent it outright by identifying precancerous lesions. There are evidence-based screening recommendations for breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancers. The most recent data show breast and lung cancer screening rates were lowest among American Indian and Alaska Native people compared to other race and ethnicities, and below all race and ethnicities combined for cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer screening.[iv],[v]


[i] U.S. Census Bureau. 2020 Census Redistricting data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File.

[ii] American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2024. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2024.

[iii] The American Cancer Society published a Special Section on Cancer in the American Indian and Alaska Native population in the 2022 Cancer Facts & Figures that is available online at

[iv] American Cancer Society. Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures 2023-2024.

[v] Henderson LM, Su IH, Rivera MP, Pak J, Chen X, Reuland DS, Lund JL. Prevalence of Lung Cancer Screening in the US, 2022. JAMA Netw Open. 2024 Mar 4;7(3):e243190. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.3190. PMID: 38512257; PMCID: PMC10958241.