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Researcher: Farhad Islami, MD, PhD
Institution: American Cancer Society
ACS Research Program: Cancer Disparity Research, Surveillance & Health Equity Science Department
“Despite some progress in recent decades, cancer disparities are still a major issue in the United States, and they may further widen because of increasing costs of novel treatments and advanced medical technologies. Much more work needs to be done to enhance health equity and mitigate cancer disparities”—Farhad Islami, MD, PhD
The Challenge: Over the past several decades, there has been progress in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment in the United States. And that’s lead to overall declines in cancer death rates. Yet, people of color, with lower socioeconomic status, and living in rural areas have not benefited equitably from these advances. The reason is racism and discrimination along with other social determinants of health that lead to both social inequities and discriminatory policies. Together, they are significant root causes of health disparities.
These disparities in cancer outcomes based on race, income, and geography will likely widen without attention from health policymakers and health care providers.
The Research: Farhad Islami, MD, PhD, is the senior scientific director of Cancer Disparity Research in Surveillance & Health Equity Science at the ACS. He and his team updated an analysis of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in cancer occurrence in the US from 2014 through 2019. They looked at differences in exposure to risk factors for developing cancer, access to utilization of preventive cancer care and cancer screening, cancer incidence, stage at diagnosis, survival, and mortality.
Here are some of their findings:
Conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age along with a broad set of forces and systems that shape the conditions of daily life. Such forces and systems include social norms, social policies, political systems, economic policies and systems, and development agendas.
Social determinants of health affect educational and job opportunities, income, housing, transportation, public safety, food security, social inclusion and non-discrimination, and access to affordable health services of high quality.
Stage at diagnosis
Cancer survival and cancer death rates