Leading Cancer Groups Release Recommendations to Close the Racial Health Care Gap

February 25, 2021
Sara Karlovitch

Three of the country’s leading health and cancer advocacy groups released recommendations on how to close the gap in racial health care disparities, which include increasing community engagement, improving access to care, addressing bias in care delivery, and providing quality and comprehensive care.

Three of the country’s leading health and cancer advocacy groups released recommendations on how to close the gap in racial health care disparities, which include increasing community engagement, improving access to care, addressing bias in care delivery, and providing quality and comprehensive care, according to a press release by The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

The recommendations come from a team of 17 national experts and are based on the results of a recent poll by Public Opinion Strategies created on the behalf of the 3 organizations, NCCN, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), and the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF). The poll found that 63% of Black caregivers, patients, and survivors said they had a negative experience with their oncology team. For Latinx individuals, it was 67%. The survey found that common negative experiences included assumptions made about them or their financial situation or trouble getting questions answered. This is in stark contrast to the 43% of White patients, caregivers, and survivors stating they had a negative experience with their oncology team.

Oncologists also participated in the poll, and the survey found that 2/3 of oncologists believe that non-White patients fair worse than White patients from cancer care. However, only 1/3 believe that non-White patient populations were receiving worse care or poorer communication from their oncology team.

“The research shows disparities in outcomes that aren’t based on biology; they result from systemic inequality and bias in access and care delivery,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, chief executive officer of NCCN, in a press release“Racism exists in the United States and impacts everyone, including the medical community. One proven method for improving equity is using guideline-concordant care. We’re grateful to be able to learn from experts about what we can do right now to make sure everyone is getting the best evidence-based care possible; the process has been both humbling and inspiring. Now we’re committed to working together to make these recommendations a reality.”

The recommendations will be explored and explained in greater detail during a keynote address at the NCCN Virtual 2021 Annual Conference which will be held from March 18 through March 20, 2021. The three organizations also created a series of policies targeted towards The Congress of the United States, Centers for Medicare & Medicade Services and commercial payers, federal agencies, and state and local policymakers.

“Communities of color and other medically underserved groups continue to have higher cancer rates and are less likely to be diagnosed early or receive optimal treatment compared to other groups,” said Lisa Lacasse, resident of ACS CAN in a press release. “Ensuring quality clinical practices are in place and applied equitably to all patients regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or geographic location is essential to reducing those disparities. We cannot achieve our mission of a world without cancer until we lessen the burden of this disease across all communities; these recommendations provide important means to achieve that goal.”

The policies put forth by the organizations include measures to remove barriers to clinical trials and requiring that the FDA take diversity into account as part of the approval process. Additionally, if put in place, they would provide resources to historically Black institutions and fund public awareness around cancer prevention that are relevant to diverse audiences.

REFERENCE:
Leading health and cancer advocacy groups unite to reduce racial disparities in cancer care. News release. NCCN. February 22, 2021. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://bit.ly/3r16m3G