Delayed cancer care more likely for Black, Latino patients, study reveals

When COVID-19 rattled healthcare practices in 2020, delaying procedures and regular screenings, Black and Latino cancer patients felt the brunt, according to Stanford researchers. 

A survey of 1,240 people found that Black and Latino cancer patients experienced delays six times and three times, respectively, as often as white cancer patients. The researchers defined delay as more than four weeks, which they said can increase the risk of death by 10 percent. 

In the study published July 14 in JAMA, the authors cited systemic racism as the cause for this disparity and said the pandemic only inflated the gap in equity for racial minorities between Sept. 1, 2020, and Jan. 12, 2021. 

"Implicit bias and systemic racism have impaired educational, employment, and housing opportunities for Black adults for decades," they wrote. "These inequitable impairments are associated with prepandemic disparities, in which Black adults had half the access to health care, more food insecurity and more poverty than white adults."

About 75 percent of Black cancer patients and 80.2 percent of Latino cancer patients experienced delayed clinic visits, lab tests and a change in location of care. In comparison, about 57 percent of white cancer patients experienced a modification in care. 

The study also revealed that physicians and clinics also requested Black and Latino cancer patients to modify their care more often than their white counterparts.

 

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