Data May Provide “Framework” for Mitigating Cancer Surgery Disparities


Findings highlight how systemic issues may impact disparities in outcomes following surgery for patients with cancer, according to Muhammad Talha Waheed, MD.

Data from a retrospective analysis indicated how residential segregation may contribute to inequalities in cancer mortality for patients who undergo surgery, which may provide a “framework” for future policies designed to mitigate these disparities, said Muhammad Talha Waheed, MD.

Waheed, a research fellow in the Department of Surgical Oncology at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California, spoke with CancerNetwork® about findings presented at the 2024 Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Meeting (SSO) from a study assessing the impact of racial/economic segregation on patient-level accessibility, timeliness, and appropriateness of treatment for cancer.

Although Waheed stated that the presentation highlighted inequities in access to care and mortality across different demographics, he acknowledged that exploring the mechanisms that drive these disparities is another question that must be addressed. Additionally, he said that he would share the results of his study with policymakers in California to help inspire legislature that may improve treatment access and quality for patients in disadvantaged areas.


This study highlights the issues that are on the systemic level and brings forward the impact of very longstanding racist policies. It’ll be hard to do anything each year to address these issues. The study shows the zip codes, areas, and disease sites that are being affected the most, and it sheds [light] on the mechanism that is driving these disparate survivals. That was the biggest question. It’s easier to find this disparate access and mortality, but what are the mechanisms that are driving these differences?

These are important points that we need to focus on. It provides the framework for state- and federal-level policies to prioritize and target these areas, the disease sites, accessibility, and timeliness appropriateness of cancer treatment. These patients residing in disadvantaged areas should have equal access and quality of cancer care. We will share these findings with stakeholders and policymakers in California. They can maybe use this as a guiding principle and make some policies.


Waheed MT, Sullivan KM, Haye S, et al. Impact of racialized residential segregation on guideline concordant cancer care and survival. Presented at the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) 2024 Annual Meeting; March 20 – 23, 2024; Atlanta, GA; abstract E126.

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