This article was originally published here
Front Oncol. 2021 Jul 7;11:690390. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2021.690390. eCollection 2021.
Racial disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes are well-documented in the US, with Black people having higher incidence rates and worse outcomes than White people. In this review, we present a summary of almost 30 years of research conducted by investigators at the Karmanos Cancer Institute’s (KCI’s) Population Studies and Disparities Research (PSDR) Program focusing on Black-White disparities in cancer incidence, care, and outcomes. The studies in the review focus on individuals diagnosed with cancer from the Detroit Metropolitan area, but also includes individuals included in national databases. Using an organizational framework of three generations of studies on racial disparities, this review describes racial disparities by primary cancer site, disparities associated with the presence or absence of comorbid medical conditions, disparities in treatment, and disparities in physician-patient communication, all of which contribute to poorer outcomes for Black cancer patients. While socio-demographic and clinical differences account for some of the noted disparities, further work is needed to unravel the influence of systemic effects of racism against Black people, which is argued to be the major contributor to disparate outcomes between Black and White patients with cancer. This review highlights evidence-based strategies that have the potential to help mitigate disparities, improve care for vulnerable populations, and build an equitable healthcare system. Lessons learned can also inform a more equitable response to other health conditions and crises.