There are substantial disparities in the burden of cancer among different segments of the U.S. population. Adverse differences in cancer measures such as number of new cases, number of deaths, survivorship and quality of life after cancer treatment, screening rates, and stage at diagnosis are referred to as cancer health disparities.
AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2020: Contents
Racial and ethnic minorities have shouldered a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 in the United States. There are several complex and interrelated factors that contribute to the COVID-19 disparities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities, some of which overlap with the factors that contribute to cancer health disparities.
Most data on acquired and inherited cancer-associated mutations come from white individuals of Western European ancestry. Many studies and initiatives like AACR Project Genomics Evidence Neoplasia Information Exchange are beginning to provide insight into the genes and specific mutations that are associated with cancer in racial and ethnic minorities.
It is estimated that four out of 10 cancer cases diagnosed among U.S. adults age 30 and older are attributable to potentially modifiable causes. Moreover, exposure to many of the major cancer risk factors continues to be particularly high among segments of the U.S. population that experience cancer health disparities.
Even though the benefits of cancer screening outweigh the potential risks for defined groups of individuals, many people for whom screening is recommended do not get screened. Individuals who are not up to date with cancer screening recommendations are disproportionately found among racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations.
Participation in cancer clinical trials is low, and there is a serious lack of racial and ethnic diversity among those who do participate. Overcoming the many barriers to clinical trial participation is vital if we are to ensure that all segments of the population benefit from advances against cancer.
An interdisciplinary team science approach to cancer survivorship research is important for addressing the disparities in cancer morbidity, mortality, and quality of life experienced by racial and ethnic minority cancer survivors. However, this research must be informed by the voices of community members such as survivor advocates.
Our limited knowledge of cancer biology in racial and ethnic minorities, including their inherited cancer predisposition and the genomic underpinnings of cancer initiation and progression, diminishes the potential of precision medicine in these populations.
Enhancing diversity in training and in the cancer workforce will enhance the perspectives included and represented, fuel creativity, and make the training pipeline and workforce more reflective of our increasingly diverse nation and the populations bearing the unequal burden of cancer.
To deepen our understanding of cancer health disparities and take significant strides toward achieving health equity, there is a vital need for robust, sustained, and predictable annual budget increases for the NIH and the National Cancer Institute.
Research is driving tremendous progress against cancer, but the grim reality is that the progress has not benefited everyone equally. The adverse differences in the burden of cancer that exist among certain population groups, referred to as cancer health disparities, are among the most pressing public health challenges that...