February 3, 2022
World Cancer Day is observed Friday, Feb. 4.
Union for International Cancer Control created World Cancer Day in 2000 to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of cancer to ensure early detection and treatment, encourage elected representatives to commit ample resources to reduce cancer mortality, and increase awareness that lifestyle behaviors can have a considerable effect on cancer risk.
The theme of this year’s observance — “Close the Care Gap” — is intended to increase awareness about inequities in cancer care. This is the first year of a 3-year campaign designed to highlight barriers related to socioeconomic factors, stigma and discrimination that prevent many people from around the world from accessing potentially life-saving preventive services, screening, treatment and care.
“By 2030, it is estimated that 75% of all premature deaths due to cancer will occur in low- and middle-income countries,” Anil d’Cruz, MS, DNB, FRCS (Hon), president of Union for International Cancer Control and director of oncology at Apollo Hospitals in India, said in a press release. “Importantly, this care gap is not only between high- and low-resource settings. Disparities exist within most countries among different populations due to discrimination or assumptions that encompass age, cultural contexts, gender norms, sexual orientation, ethnicity, income, education levels and lifestyle issues. These factors potentially reduce a person’s chance of surviving cancer — and they can and must be addressed.”
In conjunction with World Cancer Day, Healio presents the following updates that provide insights into inequities in care and potential strategies that could be implemented to address them.
Racial disparities in cancer clinical trials are “an old problem with new implications,” Leah L. Zullig, PhD, MPH, associate professor in the department of population health sciences at Duke University Medical Center, told Healio. This cover story explores how lack of racial and ethnic minority representation in trials can compromise data and perpetuate disparities in outcomes, as well as unique strategies designed to increase diversity in cancer trials. Read more.
There is a “black hole” in the oncology community’s understanding of health equity as it relates to sexual and gender minorities, Don S. Dizon, MD, FACP, FASCO, professor of medicine at Brown University, told Healio. In this cover story, Healio spoke with Dizon and other oncology specialists about risk factors about risk factors for cancer and barriers to care among the LGBTQ+ population, efforts to improve collection of sexual orientation or gender identity data, and actions clinicians can take to better meet the needs of sexual- and gender-minority patients. Read more.
Racial disparities evident in cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment do not end in the survivorship stage. Read more.
Reducing disparities in cancer care requires an understanding of “the science of trustworthiness” and a greater focus on social determinants of health, according to Robert A. Winn, MD, director of VCU Massey Cancer Center, a leader in health equity research. Read more.
Although much has been achieved within the past year in addressing inequities across the U.S. health care system, it is only the tip of the iceberg, according to panelists at the COVID-19 & Cancer Consortium Scientific Retreat. Experts who participated in a session on equity and patient engagement discussed the importance of being intentional in working to ensure adequate representation of minorities across all aspects of health care. Read more.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and National Minority Quality Forum released a series of recommendations aimed at improving equity in cancer care. Read more.
As precision medicine continues to play an increasingly important role in cancer care, racial and ethnic disparities in access to this innovative treatment approach have emerged. To address obstacles to precision medicine at every stage of treatment, ASCO held a virtual roundtable featuring experts and thought leaders from oncology care, clinical research and patient advocacy. Read more.
Union for International Cancer Control. UICC launches three-year campaign to create more equitable access to cancer services. Published Jan. 18, 2022. Accessed Jan. 31, 2022.