On the heels of a landmark report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) about the continuing medical needs of the nation's 10 million cancer survivors, a new assessment by the Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) finds those who are poor, lack health insurance, or otherwise have inadequate access to high-quality cancer care are the least likely to get comprehensive posttreatment care, increasing their odds for an early death.
In conjunction with ICC's 10th Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved, and Cancer held in Washington, the organization released a new report"Cancer Survivorship and the Medically Underserved: Reducing the Disparities in Cancer Care"examining the prospects for ethnic minorities and the poor to achieve a long-term cancer survival. The assessment finds that because of disparities in care at all points along the cancer continuumfrom screenings and diagnosis through access to cancer therapies and follow-up carethe medically underserved are the most likely to experience a shortened period of survival with a lesser quality of life.
The new report evaluated the state of cancer survivorship among the nation's minorities and the medically underserved using five criteria considered essential to a national comprehensive control effort whether the care is available, accessible, acceptable, affordable, and accountable. Based on this review, the report finds major disparities in the incidence and death rates among minorities and the poor for all cancers compared to the general population. Moreover, the report concludes that lack of health insurance, social inequities, difficulties with language and lack of health literacy will only compound these disparities for those underserved individuals who are cancer survivors.
"All Americans deserve the same opportunity to become cancer survivors and to have assurance that their future health-care needs will be properly managed," said Lovell A. Jones, PHD, cofounder of the ICC. "Disparities in cancer care are a problem of crisis proportions, but this issue has not achieved the level of public attention or commitment of financial resources that it deserves."