HOUSTONThe Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) promotes policies, programs, partnerships, and research to eliminate the unequal burden of cancer among racial and ethnic minorities and medically underserved populations in the United States and its associated territories. With this issue, ONI launches a regular column devoted to intercultural facts about cancer, based on information from the ICC and other sources.
Minorities Become Majority
Racial and ethnic minorities and medically underserved populations experience disproportionately greater suffering and death from cancer, as compared with the US population as a whole. The ICC believes this is of paramount importance because, as minorities continue to grow at a rapid rate, these groups as a whole will become the "majority" population.
According to the ICC, reasons for disparities in the health status of these groups include the following:
- Unequal socioeconomic status, resulting in unequal availability, accessibility, and utilization of health services.
- Unequal diagnostic workup and treatment after entry into the health care system.
- Unequal scientific research, resulting in unequal data collection and unequal understanding of their medical needs.
- Social, racial, and environmental injustice.
- Individual as well as institutional prejudice and discrimination.
The effects of all these factors together are compounded by the inabilityor the unwillingnessof society to acknowledge their existence, persistence, and adverse impact, the ICC states.
In the coming months, ONI will explore these and other issues related to minorities and cancer, and will report on the ICC’s 8th Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved & Cancer, to be held in Washington, DC, February 6-10, 2002. For more information, see iccnetwork.org.