There are many definitions of health disparities, but my favorite is disparities are differences that should not exist. This definition reflects the social injustice in how some races and ethnicities suffer more from cancer than others.
I like this definition of disparities (or health inequity, as many people are calling it) because it can motivate us to fix the problem – the social, economic, cultural, and political barriers that keep some racial and ethnic minorities from getting cancer prevention, early detection, and state-of-the-art cancer treatment. This obviously can be harmful to racial and ethnic minorities.
But this definition is also a problem. It can cause us to focus so much on the differences that should not exist (the social and economic inequalities) that we ignore factors driving racial and ethnic differences that may actually have a positive influence on people’s risk of developing or dying from cancer. Why is that important? [more]
If we look at differences in cancer risk according to race/ethnicity we can see many examples where cancer risk, stage at diagnosis, and death rates are higher for racial/ethnic minorities. Prostate cancer and breast cancer among African Americans are clear disparities.… Continue reading →