Providing Appropriate Pancreatic Cancer Care for People Experiencing Homelessness: A Surgical Perspective

Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2021 Mar;41:1-9. doi: 10.1200/EDBK_100027.


People experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Patients with lower socioeconomic status have worse outcomes from pancreatic cancer as the result of disparities in access to treatment and barriers to navigation of the health care system. Patients with lower socioeconomic status, or who are vulnerably housed, are less likely to receive surgical treatment even when it is recommended by National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines. This disparity in access to surgical care explains much of the gap in pancreatic cancer outcomes. There are many factors that contribute to this disparity in surgical management of pancreatic cancer in people experiencing homelessness. These include a lack of reliable transportation, feeling unwelcome in the medical setting, a lack of primary care and health insurance, and implicit biases of health care providers, including racial bias. Solutions that focus on rectifying these problems include utilizing patient navigators, addressing implicit biases of all health care providers and staff, creating an environment that caters to the needs of patients experiencing homelessness, and improving their access to insurance and regional support networks. Implementing these potential solutions all the way from the individual provider to national safety nets could improve outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer who are experiencing homelessness.

PMID:33929879 | DOI:10.1200/EDBK_100027