It is important not to wash over the disparities in treatment access for renal cell carcinoma as merely another statistic and take action on guiding patients to treatment, says Solomon Woldu, MD.
Solomon Woldu, MD, spoke with CancerNetwork® during the 2023 Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO) Annual Meeting about taking action to close the gaps in certain treatment disparities among patients with renal cell carcinoma. In a presentation, he highlighted various barriers to treatment access with contributing factors potentially including race, socioeconomic status, and education.
Woldu, an assistant professor in the Department of Urology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, suggested that practices should not be restricted by a “psychic numbing phenomenon” and defer the responsibility of understanding and acting against these disparities to other parties. Instead, he said that practices should take the time to understand that each patient may have a different support system and counsel them towards suitable therapies if they appear to be a part of an underserved demographic.
Closing the gap [in these disparities] is the biggest and trickiest question. Certainly, in the last decade or so, disparity research in cancer and kidney cancer outcomes has become very much in vogue. There’s National Institutes of Health [NIH] funding to study disparity research, as opposed to necessarily mechanistic sciences. A lot of companies, industry sponsors, academic institutions, and private practices are all seeing that this is a major issue.
Having knowledge and understanding that there are these gaps that exist in our society and not washing over it and seeing it as another statistic [is important]. That’s a sort of concern; there’s this psychic numbing phenomenon that occurs when you hear that one group on aggregate does worse than another group on aggregate. [People may ask,] ‘Okay, so now what? What can I do about it?’ There is something we can do about it. Some of us will feel that it’s not me, it’s the other guy. But it can’t always be the other guy.
I do think that there’s value in remembering that some of these studies that are reporting on disparities, especially when there’s something actionable and specific. When you see a patient who may fit a particular demographic, you may be able to spend the extra time and understand that maybe that person’s support system is not the same as another person’s support system, and counsel them and guide them towards what you think would be a better decision for them.
Woldu SL, et al. Disparities in kidney cancer care/outcomes. 2023 Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO) Annual Meeting; November 28-December 1, 2023; Washington, DC.