Although biological, genetic, and physiological factors play significant roles in who develops cancer, how it is treated, and who survives it, social, political, economic, and psychological variables also substantially contribute to cancer racial/ethnic disparities in treatment outcomes. Today, the impact of race-related attitudes on medical interactions involves subtle and nuanced processes. It is often implicit rather than explicit forms of racial bias that are responsible for negative outcomes. Thus, while race matters, a contemporary explanation of how racial attitudes may produce disparities in cancer treatment does not necessarily require attributing malevolent conscious intent. Advice for patients: 1) Ask questions – on diagnosis, prognosis and treatment, 2) Be your own health care advocate and 3) Bring a companion with you for appointments.
Roswell Park Cancer Institute strives to understand, reduce, eliminate and prevent cancer disparities in vulnerable and medically underserved populations. Learn more.