Making healthy choices, like maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco, limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, and protecting your skin, is critical in reducing your risk of cancer. Visit OMH’s Black/African American Population Profile to learn more about the disparities affecting the community. Use this page to learn more about famous Black men and women who helped advance the field and for resources on addressing cancer.

Contributions from Black Doctors & Scholars

May Edward Chinn, M.D. (1896-1980) was a pioneer in cancer research. In the early 1930s, Chinn studied cytological methods for cancer detection with George Papanicolaou, noted for his work on the Pap smear test for cervical cancer. She became an advocate for cancer screening to detect cancer at its earliest stages.


Jane Cooke Wright, M.D. (1919-2013) was the first woman to be elected president of the New York Cancer Society. Dr. Wright was a professor of surgery, head of the cancer chemotherapy department, and associate dean at New York Medical College in 1967. She was the highest-ranked Black woman at a nationally recognized medical institution at the time.

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LaSalle D. Leffall Jr, M.D. Exit Disclaimer (1930-2019) was a surgeon, oncologist, and key figure in cancer research.

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