Disparities in Cancer Care

April 20, 2009

Some experts say there is too much reporting and not enough action.

Some experts say there is too much reporting and not enough action.

After it was reported that disparities in cancer treatment between whites and ethnic minorities could widen as ethnic populations increase in the United States, Medscape reporters interviewed oncology experts. As reported in the April 9, 2009 edition of Medscape Medical News, these experts did not express concern about this report; instead, they issued a call to action to address the situation, citing that there is too much reporting about cancer disparities and not enough action.

One expert who was interviewed pointed out that the large number of previous reports combined with the release of the new report may give some healthcare providers the impression that nothing can be done to address the disparities in cancer care. If report after report document that disparities exist (and may worsen), why try to do anything?

Oncology providers can be more effective in closing the disparity in care. The annual National Minority Cancer Awareness week occurs this week, April 19-25, 2009. However, more important than awareness is action. Simple things that oncology providers can do include refraining from pointing out disparities in cancer treatment outcomes. Instead of motivating minorities who currently are less likely to undergo cancer screening, this information may be driving them away. Oncology providers also can highlight improvements in cancer survival for all patients rather than stating that survival rates are worse for minority patients. Lastly, providers can increase efforts to enroll minorities in cancer clinical trials.

Source: Cancer Disparities, Too Many Reports and Not Enough Action? Medscape Medical News, April 9, 2009. www.medscape.com/viewarticle/590826