August 31, 2020
Helping your minority patients take better control over their health
- Some cancers disproportionately affect Black patients more than white patients
- Doctor-led community outreach programs can help reduce disparities
- Focus on increasing screenings and other preventive care
Myeloma is just one example of a cancer that disproportionately impacts communities of color. Black Americans are twice as likely to have the precursor condition, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, (MGUS) than are white Americans, according to the International Myeloma Foundation. And their survival rates haven’t kept pace with those of other populations, despite having a better prognosis overall. “When given access to the same treatments, outcomes can be the same between the two groups,” UCSF hematologist-oncologist, Dr. Nina Shah tells SurvivorNet Connect.
Informing Black communities about preventive strategies could go a long way toward leveling the playing field. Outreach programs targeting community centers and senior centers give health care providers an opportunity to highlight the necessity and benefits of screenings and other preventive care strategies. Having these interactions with the health care system in their own communities will help people of color feel “more plugged into and have more trust for the health care system,” Dr. Shah adds. Ultimately, she says community-based outreach programs could encourage a more diverse group of Americans to play a more active role in protecting their own health.