Beyond Buzzwords: What Inclusivity Means for Cancer Care

Beyond Buzzwords: What Inclusivity Means for Cancer Care

Linda R. Duska, MD, MPH

Feb 27, 2018

In a recent essay, ASCO Connection blogger Dr. Don S. Dizon asks, “What makes a good doctor?” He describes his feelings of imposter syndrome during medical school and what he looks for in candidates today: compassion, curiosity, and humanity. It’s a lovely reminder that no matter your background, you can find a place where you belong under medicine’s big tent.

Being inclusive—seeking out and welcoming the perspectives of people different from us—is how we build diverse teams, and we know that diversity is important for improving health care and health outcomes. I love going to our multidisciplinary supportive care tumor board at UVA, because I always learn something that I can use to help my patients. It’s a truly inclusive group: physicians (including palliative, medical oncology, gynecologic oncology, and radiation specialists), pharmacists, nutritionists, pastors, social workers, members of the anesthesia pain team, and more. Our patients really benefit from having this broad range of experiences and perspectives focused on their care.

It is the systems-level challenges of cancer care that interest Dr. Tara O. Henderson, who was recently accepted into the prestigious Presidential Leadership Scholars Program. By working with leaders from backgrounds other than medicine, she hopes to develop new approaches to improve the fractured care that many cancer survivors currently receive. How might insights from fields such as business, politics, education, or the arts expand our own thinking about the barriers we encounter every day in oncology?

Last month, on February 4, we observed World Cancer Day. ASCO CEO Dr. Clifford A. Hudis reflects on the event’s aptly inclusive theme: “We Can, I Can”. Individually, we can help one person at a time. Together, we can transform the world for everyone affected by cancer.

And in our cover story, we see the enormous impact of The Campaign to Conquer Cancer, a multiyear fundraising effort by ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation that supports research, education, global health, and quality of care initiatives. Incredible things can be achieved when everyone is rowing in the same direction, committed to the same goal of progress against cancer.

Diversity and inclusivity are not just buzzwords. Being deliberate about creating diverse and inclusive teams is not about optics and good PR, and not about political correctness. It is the right thing to do to make sure our patients get the best possible care. Every hand is needed, and everyone has something valuable to contribute.


The ideas and opinions expressed on the ASCO Connection Blogs do not necessarily reflect those of ASCO. None of the information posted on is intended as medical, legal, or business advice, or advice about reimbursement for health care services. The mention of any product, service, company, therapy or physician practice on does not constitute an endorsement of any kind by ASCO. ASCO assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to any use of the material contained in, posted on, or linked to this site, or any errors or omissions.

Back to Top