By Srijan Sen
Cancer Treatment Centers of American is commemorating this week as National Minority Cancer Awareness Week. According to the American Cancer Society, African-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than any other ethnic group.
The mortality rate among African-American men is 27 percent higher than Caucasian men and 11 percent higher for African- American women in comparison to Caucasian women.
The Hispanic ethnic group also encounters higher rates of cervical, liver and stomach cancers than non-Hispanics.
The American Cancer Society is actively fighting cancer disparities on many fronts while working to improve access to cancer screening and treatment, as well as quit-smoking programs.
The society also funds new research to help understand barriers to health care and create strategies for overcoming them.
The reasons for the high rates of cancer in minority groups vary, as does motivation to seek treatment. There is a gender divide when it comes to men and women seeking treatment for cancer.
While 56 percent of women are motivated by the support of friends and family to get well, 46 percent of men draw motivation from peer support.
However, men are more likely to seek treatment in order satiate the desire for a healthy life.
Healthcare professionals are dedicating this week to spreading awareness and recognize the additional cancer risk for minority groups in an effort to understand how providers can improve communications with varying populations to improve their cancer care experience.
Besides a gender divide in the perception on treatment, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America finds an ethnic element to the high number of cancer related death’s in minorities.
African-American and Hispanic patients have different motivators when undergoing cancer treatment such as strong family ties for Hispanics and faith for African-Americans. In order to better understand caregiving strategies to different groups, knowing what motivates a patient to get well can help health care providers tailor how they discuss their care approach with each patient and his/her caregiver.
A 2014 study titled ‘The Cancer Experience: A National Study of Patients and Caregivers” commissioned by Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) finds the caregiving experience is not meeting the needs of cancer patients and caregivers.
Nearly one in four cancer patients and caregivers are still dissatisfied with their care experience overall (independent of treatment outcome).
The research also finds minority caregivers tend to be younger than Caucasian caregivers and often carry a larger burden of care responsibilities.
Additional support programs or caregivers are needed to address these challenges, especially among minority populations.
Health care providers also need to be diligent in involving caregivers in conversations with patients.
The CTCA concluded that healthcare leaders should be deeply focused on putting patients and their experience at the core of the whole operation, as patients are looking for providers to give them effective treatment and detailed information of progress.
The study states health care providers can improve patient and caregiver satisfaction by “maintaining open, consistent dialogue and being mindful of the ways gender and ethnicity can shape cancer treatment experience.”