The National Cancer Institute defines cancer health disparities as “differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of cancer and adverse related conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States.” The 2002 Institute of Medicine’s report found overwhelming evidence that racial and ethnic minorities suffer disparities in health care and concluded that the real challenge lies not in debating whether disparities exist, but in developing and implementing strategies to reduce and eliminate such disparities.
ASCO is actively engaged in efforts to reduce disparities in cancer care and outcomes as a part of its overall goal to advance access to and delivery of high-quality cancer care. To this end, ASCO is committed to:
- Advancing the education of the oncology community in the care of patients from underserved and/or minority population
- Increasing the diversity of the clinical oncology workforce as a requisite to improving access to cancer care for the underserved
- Supporting research and the development of clinical cancer researchers in the area of health disparities
- Advocating for public policy that ensures access to cancer care for the underserved and that supports increased clinical cancer research in health disparities
- Supporting programs to help eliminate healthcare disparities in cancer risk assessment and early detection
To fulfill these commitments, ASCO’s Health Disparities Committee works to develop programmatic and policy solutions to reduce disparities in cancer care and outcomes. The Committee provides recommendations to the ASCO Board on strategies to effectively address healthcare disparities across the cancer care continuum from prevention to end of life care.
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