Viewpoint: US cancer care system 'failing' the Black community

Black people experience higher death rates and shorter survival for most cancers than any other racial group in the U.S., showing that the "current cancer care system is failing Black people," a physician wrote in an opinion piece for STAT News.

Robert W. Carlson, MD, CEO of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, wrote in the article that the oncology community must work to achieve "full equity in cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, palliative care and research." Several studies show that race, along with factors such as insurance status, can play a significant role in whether patients receive necessary care and pain management as well as whether they experience good outcomes.

There is also research showing that Black people are underrepresented in cancer clinical trials, which not only affects the care they receive but also calls into question whether trial results are universally applicable.

In addition, conscious or unconscious bias among healthcare providers and a long-standing distrust of the healthcare system in the Black community also need to be addressed, according to Dr. Carlson. Following a history of exploitation of Black people under the guise of healthcare advancement, such as Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis among Black men, the U.S. healthcare system must work to build trust with the Black community.

"Healthcarewide bias training, internal reflection and careful listening are good places to start," Dr. Carlson wrote.

Read the full piece here.



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