Addressing Racial Disparities in Health Care

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The Message from Leading Voices in Cancer Care — Don’t Lose Yourself in Caring for Your Patients

Physician burnout is real. The mental and physical exhaustion that characterizes this condition affects up to half of doctors, and it can have both professional and personal implications. Even in times of great duress, like the COVID-19 pandemic, our instinct is to put patients first, and we may fail to recognize our own needs as a result.

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Practical Guidance on Getting Your Patients Back Into Life With COVID-19 Still in the Picture

We've been living with the pandemic for nearly a year, and COVID-19 fatigue is real. That's especially true for some cancer patients, who mark every passing milestone -- holidays, the birth of a baby, or an engagement -- with a sense of fear and frustration that time is slipping away from them.

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Drug Combo Improves Survival in Older Adults With AML

The standard treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is intensive induction chemotherapy, followed by consolidation chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, or a combination of both treatments. Yet the bulk of this patient population, who are in their late 60s or beyond, either aren't appropriate candidates for chemotherapy, or don't respond well to it.

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Blood Cancer Patients Face More Severe Illness and Death from COVID-19

Having cancer increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The immune system, already compromised by cancer and its therapies, can't respond as effectively as it could in a healthy patient. The risk of worse outcomes is particularly high for patients with blood cancers. "When they get COVID-19, they tend to get more severe illness and to die more frequently," Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, chief of the Division of Hematology at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, who was formerly with the Cleveland Clinic, tells SurvivorNet Connect.

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Oral Azacitidine May Increase Survival in Older Patients with AML

Maintenance therapy with the oral version of azacitidine (brand name: ONUREG) significantly improves disease-free survival in older adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who have achieved complete remission on intensive chemotherapy, according to research published in the journal Blood. This is the first time a maintenance therapy has shown a survival advantage in older adults, who make up the vast majority of AML patients.

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Managing a Patient with AML Who Also Has COVID-19, According to Dr. Mikkael Sekeres

Prevention and treatment of COVID-19 is not markedly different for patients with cancers of the blood and bone marrow than it is for anyone else, according to the University of Miami's Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, who formally practiced at the Cleveland Clinic. “When I have a patient who has a hematologic malignancy who also has a COVID-19 infection, I take it seriously. . . just as I would anybody who has a COVID-19 infection,” he tells SurvivorNet Connect.

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COVID-19 Energized the HCP Community in the Early Days

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, levels of HCP burnout had reached epidemic proportions. "Health care has been suffering from burnout for many, many years. All of the regulatory challenges, all of the insurance and administrative challenges that face health care has really sapped the joy for many providers," Dr. Ted Teknos, a head and neck cancer surgeon at University Hospitals in Cleveland, tells SurvivorNet Connect. According to Dr. Teknos, there was a silver lining when the pandemic first began as many health care workers felt reenergized with a purpose.

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Concrete Steps for Addressing Racial Disparities in Your Practice

Both anecdotal evidence and multiple studies have documented disturbing disparities in cancer care, morbidity, and mortality among various populations. “We’ve known that cancer disparities have existed for decades,” Dr. Karen Winkfield, radiation oncologist at Vanderbilt University, tells SurvivorNet Connect. She explains that CDC graphs and charts as far back as the 1970s show Blacks dying from cancers at a much higher rate than other racial or ethnic groups. “Black men, for example, are dying of prostate cancer at about twice the rate of white men,” she says.

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