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'Urgent Need' for Research on Cancer Among Minorities: U.S. Report
Date:4/28/2011

t cancer screening guidelines have been loosened up so that women can start having mammograms later and may be screened less often, but we know that there is an early age of onset of breast cancer among Latino populations, and so if you change the guidelines based on the majority of people, these women will be left out."

Another recommendation is that "cultural competency" become an integral part of medical school as well as continuing education for all health-care providers and administrative staff.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, praised the report, and said it "hit all the right points."

"The biggest thing we need to do is to get people access to care, the next thing is to make sure they get good quality care, and then we need to make sure that the care is delivered in a friendly environment where the patient feels welcome," said Brawley.

"The first two are actually much easier to do than the third," he noted. "A lot of poor people, but especially poor blacks and poor Hispanics, are suspicious of the medical system, and think the hospital doesn't really want to care for them -- [that] they just want to bill them and utilize them to teach their medical students."

Kripke acknowledged that many of the recommendations involve spending more money at a time when the health-care system is already financially strained.

"For instance, we know that the best way to deliver cancer information to a patient whose primary language is not English is through a medical translator, but how many hospitals can afford to do that?" she said.

The panel concluded that disparities in cancer care and research will ultimately be eliminated only by addressing the social factors involved in poor health outcomes, such as poverty, substandard housing, lower educational status and inadequate access to quality health care.

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