Complex socioeconomic, cultural, social, and environmental factors drive and perpetuate cancer health disparities. While overall cancer incidence and mortality rates have declined for all racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S., these disparities persist, creating an enormous social and economic burden.
AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2022: Contents
The majority of cancer treatments have been based on studies of individuals of European ancestry and have consequently benefited these populations more compared to groups of non-European ancestry. To equitably treat cancer, more research on cancer biology in racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations is needed.
Decades of systemic inequities and social injustices have led to adverse differences in social determinants of health, causing a disproportionately higher burden of cancer risk factors among U.S. racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations.
Socioeconomic and structural barriers are primary contributors to cancer screening disparities for racial and ethnic minorities and other medically underserved populations. Research regarding genetics of ancestry and its impact on cancer risk may improve the precision of personalized screening.
The lack of sociodemographic diversity among clinical trial participants represents a major barrier to advancing cancer care for the entire patient population. Achieving cancer health equity through access to care must include equitable access to participation in clinical research opportunities.
Medically underserved populations have more adverse side effects, poorer quality of life, and higher financial toxicity after a cancer diagnosis. Patient navigators, patient advocates, and culturally sensitive intervention/navigation programs are needed to improve the survivorship experience for these populations.
Racial and ethnic minorities are considerably underrepresented in the cancer research and care workforce. To address cancer health disparities, it is imperative to prioritize investment in early-career researchers to enhance diversity and improve equity in the workforce.
Funding for research and programs at NIH, NCI, NIMHD, CDC, and FDA; policies that increase access to early detection and promote cancer prevention; FDA guidelines that increase diversity in clinical trials; and improved insurance coverage and access to high-quality clinical care are all critical to eliminating cancer health disparities.
To reduce cancer health disparities, AACR calls upon policy makers to improve collection of disaggregated data for minority groups; increase diversity in clinical trial participation; enhance cancer prevention and screening efforts; expand access to quality health care; and build a more diverse cancer research and health care workforce.