HJBR Jul/Aug 2023

56 JUL / AUG 2023 I  HEALTHCARE JOURNAL OF BATON ROUGE ONCOLOGY DIAL GUE COLUMN ONCOLOGY HEALTH EQUITY IN CANCER CARE Barriers, Progress, & Solutions survival of any racial group in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Black women are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women and are twice as likely to die if they are over 50. Prostate cancer deaths in Black men are more than double those of every other ra- cial/ethnic group. The higher cancer bur- den is related to more significant obstacles to cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survival. People of color are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured when com- pared to whiteAmericans. In addition, African Americans are more likely to have jobs that do not offer health insurance and are dispro- portionately affected by the lack of Medicare expansion. We also see a need for more diversity in clinical trials. African Americans are under- represented and less likely to participate in clinical trials. The data collected and knowl- edge learned from these trials are pivotal in developing cancer care. They help evalu- ate the safety and efficacy of new cancer therapies and help develop screening pro- tocols. Improving the enrollment of African Americans in clinical trials will help with the IT would be hard to find someone not im- pacted by cancer. Most of us have personal experience with the disease or know some- one who has. The American Cancer Society estimates that 1.9 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and an esti- mated 600,000 will die from the disease. This is America’s second most common cause of death after heart disease. Over the last three decades, the death rate from cancer has dropped by 32%. This success is primarily due to treatment im- provements, prevention and early detection through screening, and access to care. Un- fortunately, not everyone has benefitted from these advances. The lack of equity leads to an inadequate opportunity to prevent cancer, find it early, and get proper treatment and follow-up. Disparities in healthcare equity are deeply rooted in our community: the places where we live, work, learn, and grow old. We must look at the social determinants of health to understand this problem and be- gin to address it. These social determinants include access to healthy food, reliable trans- portation, clean air and water, a safe living environment, access to quality healthcare, and education. The United States Department of Health and Human Services determined that smok- ing rates are higher among people with a low- er education level. In the United States, nearly 20% of adults with a high school education smoke, but only about 7% of people with a four-year college education smoke. Patients with cancer residing in geographi- cally rural areas experience lower rates of preventative screening, more advanced dis- ease at presentation, and higher mortality rates than urban populations. Obesity has been linked to several types of cancers in adults. For example, Americans living in ru- ral or impoverished areas are more likely to be obese or overweight. This can be linked to less access to quality food and grocery stores, which significantly limits affordable and healthy food options. In East Baton Rouge Parish, more than 70,000 residents are reported to live in food deserts, according to a U.S. Department of Agricultural report. The disparities in cancer care are apparent when we look closely at African Americans. In this demographic, we see the highest death rate and the shortest