Pandemic Negatively Affected African American Cancer Survivors Health

The COVID-19 pandemic had a substantial influence on African American cancer survivors, affecting both physical and mental health.


According to a recent study, nearly all survivors surveyed reported changes in their daily activities in an effort to reduce daily risk of infection with COVID-19 and more than 40% reported feeling anxious, depressed, and/or isolated during the pandemic.


“Findings from this investigation indicate a profound, negative impact of COVID- 19 on this cohort of African American cancer survivors with the potential to widen current cancer health disparities,” study authors wrote.


The study included patients from the Detroit Research on Cancer Survivors cohort. This cohort includes more than 4,500 cancer survivors and about 950 primary caregivers. A spring 2020 survey was given focusing on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; 890 survivors responded.


Most respondents included that they wore a face mask, practiced social distancing, and regularly washed their hands to prevent infection. More than half (57%) of respondents reported having participated in one or more telemedicine visits and about one-third reported missing one or more appointments because of the pandemic. In all, about 40% of the patients reported some disruption in their access to medical care.


“Our study participants reported a number of disruptions to their normal medical care as a result of the pandemic; this is a major concern because delays in detection and treatment would certainly affect cancer survival, particularly in an already underserved population,” the researchers wrote. “Moreover, because African American patients with cancer are more likely than their non- Hispanic White counterparts to suffer multiple comorbidities, these disruptions to primary care would have a profound effect on disease management.”

Nearly 27% of active survivor respondents reported declines in their physical activity because of the pandemic. Additionally, 29% reported increased use of cigarettes, 24% reported increased use of marijuana, and 17% reported greater frequency of consumption of alcohol. In all about 40% of respondents reported changes in health behaviors shown to negatively affect survivorship outcomes.