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npj Breast Cancer Report Identifies a Range Of Breast Cancer Disparities

By BCRF | January 13, 2016

A report published recently in npj Breast Cancer took a look at disparities in breast cancer as a whole. The report, authored by three BCRF grantees and other experts in the field, was a result of a BCRF-hosted workshop chaired by its Scientific Advisory Board member, Dr. Patricia Ganz, and included 24 researchers. The purpose of the meeting was to identify central areas in disparities research where innovative strategies can be employed to close the gaps in breast cancer outcomes. It touched on differences in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and access to care between groups, including minority, low-income or older women, and those in rural or underserved communities.

“The workshop was a welcome opportunity to talk about a very real problem: groups that face poorer outcomes than other populations” said Dr. Ganz, co-author of the report. “Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made in breast cancer research, we know there are gaps in care between different groups—it’s critical that we find ways to close them.”

The report concluded that groups suffering from inadequate access to screening, clinical care and new treatment options through clinical trials, or those that don’t receive appropriate mental health care during or after treatment, continue to have the most severe outcomes, including a widening gap in survival.

Some key points of discussion: in poor urban communities, barriers primarily stem from lack of health insurance; rural communities are often isolated and care decisions may be based on transportation availability; breast cancer therapies are less likely to be studied in older patients, and there are disparities in the psychosocial outcomes of Latina American breast cancer survivors compared to non-Latina counterparts. All of these groups are understudied and lack access to clinical trials.

Recommendations included the support of further research to understand disparities and ways to resolve them. The group added that future research would benefit from the inclusion of multi-disciplinary teams including academic, public health and community leaders, who can provide insight on the real-life implementation of research findings.

To learn more about breast cancer disparities, read more here.