Race and economics are still driving cancer treatment and survivorship, ONS member Janice Phillips, RN, PHD, FAAN, explained in her article, “Unfair Diagnosis: Socioeconomic Gap Drives Cancer Outcomes,” published in January 2019 in Scientific American.

Citing the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts and Figures, 2019, she reported that although cancer rates are decreasing, the African American community as well as the poorer sections of the United States are still seeing disparate cancer outcomes. Philips added that she identified specific barriers in her own research in breast cancer in younger African American women, including nonadherence to screening because of fear of diagnosis, providers not taking patient concerns seriously because they’re “too young” to have breast cancer, and younger African American patients presenting with very aggressive tumor types.

Pointing to access to affordable care as the driving force behind the gap, Phillips explained that lack of preventive services and health information are part of the reason for the difference. As a clinician, educator, and researcher, Phillips has experience working in these communities. “Uninsured women in particular were more times than not referred to our county hospital, where fewer resources and state of the art diagnostics were available. Even today, zip code and insurance status can influence whether women receive breast cancer care at centers of excellence.”

The substantial difference in access to health care in these communities must be addressed to level cancer outcomes for patients. Learn more about access to cancer care and how you can make a difference.