Access to Care and Nondiscrimination Are Two Key Ways to Address Cancer Disparities, According to ONS and ANA Position Statements

June 27, 2019 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor

Cancer knows no race, color, nationality, or ethnicity. But although any person may one day develop cancer, incidence and mortality rates for some cancers are disproportionately higher in certain racial, ethnic, geographic, or socioeconomic groups. Here are just a few of the many identified cancer disparities, according to the National Cancer Institute (

Although research is identifying the biologic differences that contribute to cancer disparities, access to care remains a major factor. ONS, in its Access to Quality Care position statement (, posited that all people must have access to affordable, quality health care without discrimination. In addition, it states that oncology nurses and advanced practice nurses, as essential providers of cancer care, address barriers such as geographical and financial issues and facilitate access to specialist services and clinical trials.

“Nurses have an ethical obligation to provide care to all people and promote access to quality health care, especially for those who are underserved, vulnerable, and under-represented,” ONS Chief Clinical Officer Lisa Kennedy Sheldon, PhD, APN-BC, AOCNPâ, FAAN, said.

In a similar vein, ONS supports the American Nurses Association’s (ANA’s) The Nurse’s Role in Addressing Discrimination: Protecting and Promoting Inclusive Strategies in Practice Settings, Policy, and Advocacy position statement ( In it, ANA called for inclusive strategies for nursing care of all individuals, of all ages, and from all populations:

ANA emphasized creating an environment of mutual respect and civility that would naturally promote nondiscrimination and could even reduce the incidence of healthcare workplace violence ( and nurse bullying and incivility (

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