ASCO Calls on Members to Provide Data Critical to Addressing Cancer Disparities

November 10, 2020

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is conducting a national survey to better understand the barriers and facilitators to the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data within oncology practice and research in order to help identify gaps in data collection and care that need to be addressed to improve outcomes for patients. The survey aims to provide critical data to inform policies and practices that would help the cancer community provide the highest quality and equitable oncology care, and produce research that serves all patients and society.

The Society is calling on ASCO members directly involved in treating patients with cancer in the U.S. to share their experiences by taking this important survey. Expertise specific to vulnerable populations is not necessary to participate in the study and all responses are anonymous.

ASCO has a deep-rooted commitment to addressing health disparities among sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations and furthering equitable access to care for all people with cancer. This new survey supports recommendations from ASCO’s 2017 position statement, “Strategies for Reducing Cancer Health Disparities Among Sexual and Gender Minority Populations,” published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The position statement provided detailed recommendations on how to address the needs of SGM populations affected by cancer and members of the oncology workforce who identify as SGM.

In 2019, ASCO submitted a comment letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar regarding the proposed rule on Sec. 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs or Activities. The letter detailed concerns that implementing the proposed rule, which included removing “gender identity” from the defined discrimination categories covered by “on the basis of sex,” would substantially limit the rights and protections of SGM patients,  reduce the anti-discrimination requirements on health insurers and medical providers, and inhibit access to equitable cancer care and adequate insurance coverage.

Most recently, ASCO called for new actions to reduce disparities in cancer outcomes, including specific recommendations to further support SGM populations. For example, ASCO recommended that SOGI data collection and reporting be required in cancer research and institution-level efforts to examine and rectify implicit biases or discrimination toward patients, families, or healthcare workers should be implemented to help address structural barriers to equitable care.

Data collection is critical to informing future work that addresses the needs of SGM populations. The SOGI survey is just one of many ASCO initiatives to reduce disparities in cancer care to ensure all patients receive the highest quality and equitable cancer care.

We encourage ASCO members directly involved in the care of patients with cancer in the U.S., to take the survey. The survey will remain open through November 14.