WASHINGTON, D.C.— May 16, 2022 — Discrimination in health care and quality of care remain barriers to receiving care for Black and Hispanic cancer patients and survivors, according to preliminary data from a forthcoming American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Survivor Views survey. When asked about barriers to cancer care in their community, over 35 percent of Black respondents and more than 30% of Hispanic respondents noted experiences of discrimination or stereotyping. More than one-third of Black respondents and approximately 30% of Hispanic respondents indicated the quality of care in their area as a barrier, compared to roughly 1 in 5 of white respondents.
“We know that access to affordable, quality cancer care is far from equitable,” said Lisa A. Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Ensuring equity in cancer care is a key priority. All people diagnosed with cancer – regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or geography – should be able to get the best care possible. We have to change this unacceptable reality.”
The ongoing survey, which is being fielded to cancer survivors and patients, found that the majority of respondents ranked access to community-based resources like quality local hospitals and community clinics, as having the most impact on improving cancer outcomes.
These and other issues related to disparities in cancer care were discussed during ACS CAN’s 11th annual National Policy Forum on the Future of Health Care last week. The forum, which focused on improving cancer care in every community, brought together leading health care experts, business leaders, volunteers and patient advocates for in-depth discussions on the challenges faced by specific groups of cancer patients and survivors, including communities of color, older adults, and LGBTQ+ people. Forum panelists also discussed the importance of public-private partnerships in addressing these challenges and how public policy can be used to ensure that future advancements in care can improve access and affordability for all communities.
“These are urgent issues that demand urgent action,” said Lacasse. “Everyone has a role to play. Impactful policy change is a critical component in our ability to address health disparities and public-private partnerships are key to enacting meaningful and long-lasting change.”
ACS CAN advocates for policies at all levels of government that break down existing barriers to and reduce disparities in cancer care, including the Diversifying Investigations Via Equitable Research Studies for Everyone (DIVERSE) Trials Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that aims to increase access to clinical trials and improve participation by communities that are traditionally underrepresented in them. A provision from that legislation was recently included in the proposed Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) reauthorization, which would require the FDA to issue guidance on the use of decentralized trial practices like telemedicine, which could allow greater participation of underrepresented groups in clinical trials. The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to vote on PDUFA reauthorization this week.
A recording of the National Policy Forum, where the preliminary survey data and other cancer equity issues were discussed, is available online.