Overcoming Disparities in Cancer: A Need for Meaningful Reform for Hispanic and Latino Cancer Survivors

This article was originally published here

Oncologist. 2021 Feb 16. doi: 10.1002/onco.13729. Online ahead of print.


Hispanic and Latino (HL) cancer survivors are at a critical disadvantage compared to non-Hispanic White (NHWs) patients regarding sociodemographic adversities and access to equitable treatment options. By 2030, there will be about four million HL cancer survivors in the US, representing nearly 20% of survivors in this country. Hispanics and Latinos are subjected to significant challenges in accessing and receiving equitable care relative to NHWs. Hispanics and Latinos also experience lower rates of health insurance and financial resources, limiting healthcare options. These disparities often originate from disparate social determinants of health including lower funding for education and school programs, greater neighborhood stressors and violence, lower access to healthy and affordable food, and greater barriers to community health/exercise opportunities. Even among HLs with proper access to healthcare, they experience disparate treatment options including low inclusion in clinical trials and/or access to experimental therapies. A solution to these barriers necessitates complex and systemic changes that involve, for example, investing in public health programs, increasing the diversity and cultural awareness of the medical workforce, and promoting research opportunities such as clinical trials that are inclusive of HLs. Only through meaningful reform will equitable cancer care be available for all in the US regardless of racial and/or ethnic background. This manuscript reviews some of the critical social determinants of health and biases relevant to HL cancer survivors and provides recommendations for achieving cancer health equity. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Hispanics and Latinos experience a significant and often disproportionate cancer-related burden compared to non-Hispanic and Latino Whites and other racial/ethnic groups. Meaningful reform to achieve health equity in oncology should focus on approaches to gaining trust among diverse patients, cultural and community sensitivity and engagement in oncology care and research, diversifying the workforce, and improving inclusion in clinical trial participation. Taken together, these recommendations can lead to exemplary and equitable care for all patients.

PMID:33594785 | DOI:10.1002/onco.13729