In recognition of World Cancer Day, CancerNetwork® spotlights NCCN efforts to reduce disparities in cervical cancer.
In observation of World Cancer Day, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) is joining other organizations and institutions to close the disparities gap in cancer care by raising awareness of and addressing inequitable care, according to a press release.1 The World Cancer Day agenda aligns with the World Health Organization’s previously announced worldwide strategy to eliminate cervical cancer.2
The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) declared that “close the care gap” will be the theme of a 3-year campaign with a goal of prompting better health equity across all populations. In particular, the UICC indicated that disparities in cervical cancer need to be addressed, citing that the 5-year survival rate in Black women is 58% vs 71% for White women. Additionally, almost all cases of cervical cancer mortality reportedly occur in low- and middle-income countries. Income-based disparities have also been observed in childhood cancers, with survival rates of over 80% in high-income countries and roughly 20% in low-income countries. Other disparities exist between rural and non-rural populations, including within the United States.
“Who you are or where you live should not determine how long you live,” Robert W. Carlson, MD, chief executive officer at the NCCN, said in the press release. “Yet, we know disparities in cancer care and outcomes exist between the United States and other countries, and within the U.S. itself between different races/ethnicities, socioeconomic groups, sexual orientations, gender identities, regions, and more. Today and every day we must uncover and address the significant barriers that prevent too many people from receiving high-quality cancer care.”
In an effort in lessening disparities within the cervical cancer space, the NCCN published patient guidelines for cervical cancer that cover topics such as increasing vaccination against the human papillomavirus and providing more accessible screening and early detection in order to further reduce incidence of and death from the disease.
The guidelines include recommendations for conversations that patients should have with their doctors and how to actively participate in treatment decision making.3 Additionally, the guidelines detail how treatment options have notably changed over the years, including the emergence of immunotherapy and therapies that are less likely to impact fertility and sexual function. Prevention remains at the core of the guidelines despite a heavy emphasis on treatment.
“As individuals, as communities, we can and must come together and break down barriers. We have achieved a lot in the last decade in cancer care and control around the world but not addressing inequities in society is slowing our progress. Closing the care gap is about fairness, dignity, and fundamental rights to allow everyone to lead longer lives in better health,” Cary Adams, PhD, chief executive officer at UICC, concludes.