Mass circulating magazines offer an opportunity to inform large segments of the population about preventive health behaviors relevant for cancer control. We collected information about the number and type of cancer articles from January 1987 through December 1994 in Jet, Ebony and Essence magazines. These magazines each have a principal readership of African-American women and a paid circulation of 1,000,000 or more annually. Cancer articles were counted if the content was gender neutral or specifically targeted for women. There were 84 articles on cancer including 6 on lung cancer and 3 on other tobacco-related cancers. Nine additional references to lung cancer were mentioned under the general cancer category, but lung cancer was not the primary focus of the articles. There were 24 articles on breast cancer and 9 on cervical cancer over the 8 year period. Most of the articles (> 70%) were short fillers of less than one page in length. A prevention focus was included in 42.2%, 75.0%, and 71.0% of the cancer articles in Jet, Ebony, and Essence respectively. Of the 649 health articles, 116 were on cardiovascular disease. In contrast, there were 1,477 tobacco advertisements over the 8 years. The number of cancer articles was not significantly associated with the number of tobacco advertisements. Because tobacco-related cancers are entirely preventable and contribute to the significant cancer burden, the lack of coverage of tobacco-related cancers is a missed opportunity for health promotion among African-American females.