The AACR released its annual report on cancer disparities, highlighting the various health conditions that disproportionately affect minority groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community and racial and ethnic minorities.
The organization found that the medical community isn’t doing enough to address these issues. The report found that cancer rates in the Black community are lower than in white neighborhoods but have higher mortality rates than in other ethnic and racial groups. It also noted that cervical cancer rates are significantly higher in Alaska Native and Native American women.
Cancer in the LGBTQ+ Community
There is currently a lack of data on how cancer affects the health of the LGBTQ community, a significant issue that needs to be addressed. Despite the lack of data, researchers have noted that discrimination and implicit bias against the LGBTQ community is still prevalent in the healthcare industry. More research is needed to understand how the issue affects the trans community. For instance, research shows that men are more likely to object to having their cervical cancer screenings.
Inequities Lead to Cancer
The prevalence of racial and cultural discrimination in the healthcare system is no surprise. A person’s socioeconomic status, education, and environment affect their health. Uninsured patients, high-priced prescriptions, and inadequate hospitals can lead to social and structural inequities in the healthcare system that can affect a person’s cancer mortality rate. According to the report, follow-up care is less likely to be provided in marginalized communities due to various factors such as lack of insurance, miscommunication with providers, and bias in the system. In addition, Latinx and African-American patients are more likely to skip their medications due to the high cost of treatment.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations have urged the federal and local governments to expand the availability of high-speed internet access to cancer patients in low-income and rural areas. This would allow them to receive better treatment and improve their health outcomes.
Despite the lack of a comprehensive solution to the racial and cultural issues that can affect the development of cancer, the experts who worked on the report noted that one of the most critical steps that can be taken to improve the quality of cancer care is by increasing the number of people of color participating in clinical trials.
To improve the involvement of minority groups, the experts suggested that health educators reach out to communities through town halls, church meetings, and other health centers. Researchers also noted that African-American and Latinx cancer patients should be aware of the importance of taking their medication as they are more likely to skip their doses due to financial concerns.