Creating Equal Justice Through Equal Care

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 3:19pm
Associate Professor of Urology & Cancer Health Disparities, RPCI

In honor of Black History Month, I want to educate African Americans on the inequities that exist in health care treatment with the hope of inspiring change. Patients need to take a proactive approach to their health care and demand equality.  

African Americans disproportionately die each year due to inappropriate care. Overall, 83,000 additional deaths occur because of inequities in health care treatment. Although we don’t know what proportion of those deaths are cancer-related, we do know that African Americans have a higher mortality rate for breast, lung and colorectal cancer, and are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer. 

Unfortunately, the health care industry isn’t void of stereotypes and racial discrimination. While most physicians are fair and equitable, the subconscious of all individuals is unavoidably influenced by the history of America, and it affects the decisions we make every day.  

What Can African-American Patients Do to Improve the Quality of the Health Care They Receive? 

Everyone should be very critical of the care they receive. Just like any other industry, patronize health care facilities that value you and want your business. Ask questions and educate yourself on your health care options. Learn proper screening precautions and the standard of care.  

The public outside of the African American community should demand equal care and equal justice for everyone. These disparities exist because the population does nothing to mandate change. Start talking about it more and make your voice heard.  

How RPCI Combats Cancer Treatment Disparities:

NOW U KNOW - A new approach to offering Roswell Park’s comprehensive menu of evidenced-based cancer prevention and control programs to individuals and community organizations throughout the Western New York-region, especially those that service minority and underserved communities. This effort is done through networking, support, information and connections.

Patient Navigation - The Roswell Park Patient Navigation Program assists patients of all cancer diagnoses. Patient navigators are trained, culturally competent health care workers who guide patients, family members and physicians through the health care system to ensure that their needs are being met. Navigators provide access to community resources for transportation, housing and support services at Roswell Park.

The Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research - Roswell Park is dedicated to research that advances the understanding of cancer health disparities and to developing and offering integrated community-based services and educational programs tailored to meet the needs of vulnerable and medically underserved populations.

Center for Personalized Medicine - CPM uses genomic technologies to develop targeted, personalized therapies that are based on a person's unique genetic makeup, toward the goal of improving patient care and outcomes.