Colorectal Cancer: In the Pursuit of Health Equity

Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2021 Mar;41:108-117. doi: 10.1200/EDBK_321071.


Colorectal cancer mortality has decreased considerably following the adoption of national screening programs, yet, within at-risk subgroups, there continue to be measurable differences in clinical outcomes from variations in screening, receipt of chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, access to clinical trials, research participation, and survivorship. These disparities are well-described and some have worsened over time. Disparities identified have included race and ethnicity, age (specifically young adults), socioeconomic status, insurance access, geography, and environmental exposures. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, colorectal cancer care has necessarily shifted dramatically, with broad, immediate uptake of telemedicine, transition to oral medications when feasible, and considerations for sequence of treatment. However, it has additionally marginalized patients with colorectal cancer with historically disparate cancer-specific outcomes; among them, uninsured, low-income, immigrant, and ethnic-minority patients-all of whom are more likely to become infected, be hospitalized, and die of either COVID-19 or colorectal cancer. Herein, we outline measurable disparities, review implemented solutions, and define strategies toward ensuring that all have a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.

PMID:34010044 | DOI:10.1200/EDBK_321071