Addressing social determinants of health boosted cancer survival rates 94%, study says

A cancer care delivery model specifically accounting for social determinants of health not only improved overall cancer survival rates up to 94 percent for white and Black patients, but also nearly eliminated racial health disparities in cancer care outcomes, according to a study set to be published in the Nov. 1 edition of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics.

According to an Oct. 27 press release, the Accountability for Cancer Care through Undoing Racism and Equity model has four components:

  • Electronic health record with automatic alerts to flag missed appointments or unmet milestones

  • A nurse navigator trained in race-specific barriers

  • A physician to engage healthcare teams with race-related feedback on treatment completion

  • Regular health equity education training sessions

Researchers compared five-year survival rates for 1,413 patients with stage 0,1 and 2 lung and breast cancer diagnosed in 2013-2015 after the new care model was put in place to 2,016 patients treated in 2007-2011 prior to system changes between the ages of 18 and 65. 

They compared five-year survival according to race for eligible patients from the tumor registry during the study period with comparison to historical controls.

Key findings: 

  • There was improved survival for Black and white breast cancer patients and white lung cancer patients over time while the racial gap in survival was reduced for lung and breast cancer. 

  • The five-year observed survival rates for white and Black breast cancer patients increased to 94 percent for both groups. 

  • The five-year observed survival for white and Black lung cancer increased from 43 percent and 37 percent, respectively, to 56 percent and 54 percent.

Researchers concluded that a systems-based intervention reduced racial gaps in treatment completion and improved care.

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