Charting a Path Towards Asian American Cancer Health Equity: A Way Forward

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2022 Apr 19:djac055. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djac055. Online ahead of print.


On July 29, 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration’s Oncology Center of Excellence convened Conversations on Cancer. This Conversation, the first ever by the US Food and Drug Administration, focused on Asian Americans and served as the platform for this Commentary. Panelists elaborated on topics ranging from heterogeneity in Asian American demographics to racism through a path to health equity and supplemented this Commentary with literature citations. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing US race group, yet data aggregation obscures distinctions and cancer disparities within the more than 24 million Asians living in the United States with harmful impacts on communities and patients, as illustrated by breast cancer survivor Susan Shinagawa’s patient-to-advocate journey. Bigotry against Asian Americans has been pervasive since the 19th century, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Asian Americans are unique as the first US population to experience cancer as the leading cause of death. Asian Americans are disproportionately affected by cancers because of infectious origins and have the highest rates of lung cancer among never-smoking women. The infinitesimal proportion of the National Institutes of Health’s budget compared with experiencing the highest percentage increases of any US racial population more than 3 decades highlights the dearth of focused research among Asian Americans. Recognizing the heterogeneity of Asian Americans and that disaggregated data are critical for accurately characterizing distinct ethnic groups, focusing on the impact of racism and COVID-19 on cancer disparities, and focusing and prioritizing funding resources are necessary steps forward for achieving health equity for Asian Americans.

PMID:35437573 | DOI:10.1093/jnci/djac055