Bridging Health Equity in Our Communities

April is National Minority Health Month

Article ID: 673030

Released: 18-Apr-2017 9:30 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

  • Credit: Debbie Vogel

    Jennifer Tsui, PhD

Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J. - April 18, 2017 - Cancer is now the leading cause of death in 22 states and disproportionately impacts racial/ethnic minority groups. New Jersey in particular has the fifth highest cancer incidence rate in the United States and continues to experience marked disparities in cancer outcomes by race/ethnicity, income, and geography.  Like other complex health conditions, low-income and racial/ethnic minority patients, particularly those with Medicaid coverage, are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at later disease stages, less likely to undergo and complete treatment, and experience worse survival compared to other non-minority patients.

Access to care is an important factor for timely cancer screening and treatment. The Affordable Care Act has expanded insurance coverage for vulnerable groups through Medicaid and improved access to care, helping to reduce out of pocket costs for cancer screenings and promote innovations in health care quality. New Jersey has also made positive strides in the overall reduction prevalence of smoking and obesity, risk factors for cancer, compared to other states.[1] Our rates of routine doctor visits among at-risk adults with chronic conditions are also among the highest of any state. [2]

These advancements, combined with the ongoing efforts to better integrate cancer care delivery throughout New Jersey, including here at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, are particularly encouraging for minority communities. More work can be done, however, of providing better, more affordable cancer care for all populations. At Rutgers Cancer Institute, investigators in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program are engaging in population-based research to reduce the cancer burden and improve quality of life for cancer patients and survivors and for those at risk for cancer in the community.

As we enter this new era of precision medicine and innovative therapies, it will be critically important to ensure minority populations have access to high quality screenings and treatments, adequate insurance coverage, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services to address their cancer care needs.

Jennifer Tsui, PhD, is a resident research member in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

[1] D. C. Radley, D. McCarthy, and S. L. Hayes, Aiming Higher: Results from a Scorecard on State Health System Performance, 2017 Edition, The Commonwealth Fund, March 2017.

[2] D. C. Radley, D. McCarthy, and S. L. Hayes, Aiming Higher: Results from a Scorecard on State Health System Performance, 2017 Edition, The Commonwealth Fund, March 2017.


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