Only 4%–9% of patients with ovarian or cervical cancer use palliative care, but the numbers are much lower for Hispanic and Asian women than for non-Hispanic White women, according to researchers’ findings reported in Data in Brief.

Using data from patients with metastatic gynecologic cancers in the 2016 National Cancer Database for two separate analyses of 176,899 and 66,781 patients, respectively, researchers found that only 5% used palliative care: 4% with ovarian cancer, 9% with cervical cancer, and 11% with uterine cancer. However, when broken down by racial groups, the researchers found that Hispanic and Asian women used palliative care only about 3% and 6% of the time for ovarian or cervical cancer, respectively. Usage was also lower for Hispanic women with uterine cancer (9%), but not Asian women.

“This analysis illustrates disparities in palliative care use among metastatic gynecological cancer patients exist, indicating unequal treatment among cancer patients by race/ethnicity," the researchers wrote. “Our results can be used as rationale to develop and implement interventions to improve equitable provision of palliative care among gynecologic cancer patients in the United States.”

Oncology nurses have a responsibility to help patients with cancer understand their palliative care options. Find ideas and strategies for discussing palliative care with your patients through ONS.