Last week, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) CEO Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO, participated in Health Equity: Advocacy and Access, an online panel hosted by The Cancer Letter which focused on policy’s role in ensuring equitable access to care. Moderated by Karen Knudsen, PhD, CEO of the American Cancer Society and the ACS Cancer Action Network, the discussion examined how federal agencies are addressing health equity issues, guidance for the Administration’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative, telehealth efforts, social determinants of health, the role of data in quality improvement, and increasing patient access to quality cancer care.
During the discussion, Dr. Hudis mentioned the necessity of collaboration in moving towards health equity, citing ASCO’s collaboration with the Association of Community Cancer Centers on a multi-year project to increase racial and ethnic diversity in cancer clinical trial enrollment.
Dr. Hudis also pointed to a lack of insurance coverage as a long-standing barrier in clinical trial access. He noted the downstream impact of how a lack of coverage continues to reduce, for example, the number of Black Americans and other groups participating in clinical research trials, which in turn continues to raise challenges about how data can be applied to diverse populations. He cited the importance of Congress passing the CLINICAL TREATMENT Act, which requires all states and territories to cover and reimburse for the routine costs of care for services associated with Medicaid enrollee participation in a qualifying clinical trial.
In closing remarks, Dr. Hudis noted that the renewed emphasis on cancer screening also means that the healthcare system must also be able to support the treatment of an increased number of newly diagnosed patients, especially individuals who have historically faced barriers such as delayed care and prolonged wait times for screenings and treatment.
“The underlying theme to me is engagement and patients, meaning having the time to build relationships and stick with it, because it’s trust that underlies all of this in the long run,” he said. “I think the more we respectfully engage every population and take the time to talk and teach and listen and learn, the higher the probability of success in the long run.”
Dr. Hudis joined leaders from the oncology field, including:
- Chanita Hughes Halbert, PhD, Vice Chair for Research, Professor, Department of Population and Public Health Sciences; Associate Director for Cancer Equity at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Southern California
- Amy E. Leader, DrPH, MPH, Associate Professor of Population Science and Medical Oncology, Associate Director of Community Integration, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center; Public Health Teaching Faculty, College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University
- Cheryl Willman, MD, Executive Director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Programs (nationally and globally); Director, Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center
To learn more about ASCO’s efforts in health equity, diversity, and inclusion, visit asco.org/equity.
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