Fact: If you are African American and you have cancer, you are more likely to die than if you are white. Fact: If you are uninsured and you have cancer, you are more likely to die than if you have medical insurance. We all know this but what are we doing about it?
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of chairing the fall meeting of ASCO’s Health Disparities Advisory Group (HDAG). The members of HDAG are exceptional clinical oncologists and researchers who are committed to promoting cancer equity. In my view, they are the best colleagues and friends you could ask for. HDAG was first established in 2003 when elimination of cancer disparities was formally integrated into ASCO’s Strategic Plan. Since then, with the help of stellar ASCO staff Dana Wollins and Kimberly Head, HDAG has been instrumental in enhancing awareness and education of cancer disparities through content in ASCO’s annual and thematic meetings, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and ASCO University. HDAG formed the Diversity in Oncology Initiative, a program to increase the number of minority physicians entering oncology and to bring oncology services into underserved communities. More recently, HDAG has helped ASCO to shape its policy priorities after the passing of the health care reform law.
We are incredibly excited about our current collaboration with QOPI aimed at improving the quality of cancer care in all populations. We also have joined the NCI in a research collaborative aimed at guiding future disparities research.
Here’s the final fact of this blog: While we have made significant strides in addressing cancer disparities, we have a long way to go. Before health care reform, there were cancer disparities. After health care reform, there will be cancer disparities. ASCO’s HDAG continues to be committed to our work. What do you think should be our priorities in the future?