Health Disparities and Cancer

Health Disparities and Cancer

A current heath issue that affects many individuals is the plague of cancer. This awful disease takes loved ones from many families. Yet, minorities are affected by cancer more often than their white counter parts. It is estimated that the incidence rate of cancer is 10% higher in African Americans than it is for their white counterparts. Health disparities like this can be modeled along a framework called the Social Ecological Model (SEM). This framework helps to show how public policy, community, organizational, interpersonal, and intrapersonal reasons all relate in an aspect of health, whether that be a solution to a health issue or a health disparity. Using the health disparity of cancer within the African American community it can be seen that various aspects of the SEM that these factors can be used to perpetuate this disparity. On an intrapersonal level the lack of knowledge about cancer within the African American community than in the white community perpetuates this disparity. The lack of knowledge of this disease leads to less recognition of the early symptoms that could lead to effective treatment and less awareness to risk activities that could cause cancer. On an interpersonal level, African American families are less supportive during an illness than their white counterparts in order to breed the idea of making individuals tough. This inadequate support system will drive African Americans to not seek support for cancer and other cancer related high risk behaviors. Lastly, on an organizational level there is little support for individuals and little to no resources for individuals affected by cancer or high cancer risk behavior. These different ways that this awful health disparity are perpetuated exemplify areas that we as a society should strive to change and support.

These health disparities that affect minorities do not have to be a permeant. We as health care professionals can lead the charge in the elimination of health disparities. This could be done on many levels of the SEM. One way would be on the community level by giving cancer screenings through social organizations such as a church or a community organization. This intervention at the community level could increase awareness of this awful disease within the African American community and the cancer screenings could detect early signs of this disease allowing for early treatment and survival against cancer. The higher treatment and survival rate would be a good step in the right direction to improving this health disparity. As health professionals we all hope to do the best for our patients and their wellbeing; no matter their race, gender identity, sexuality, or any other factor.

4 thoughts on “Health Disparities and Cancer

  1. I like your idea of providing healthcare throughout a community. This idea could create awareness for all ages and ethnicities. Providing healthcare screenings in a community could be a pivotal action for our society. It does not make sense that in our society the well off, healthier individuals have access to better health care. This disparity is just part of the problem. We need to find a way to help those who are underprivileged and/or a minority. We associate people who fall into this category with lower health and many diseases that are “self inflicted”. If we can prevent these diseases before they begin or create awareness to them, perhaps we can lower the disparities between classes.

  2. The facts are evidence enough that there is health disparities in this world and that African American communities may be more prone to cancer for whatever reason. However, I do not believe this is necessarily something we can solve just yet because we haven’t even figured out a cure for cancer or even the genetics of cancer as to who get it, and why for anyone (whites, blacks, women, men, children etc.) I don’t think the disparity issue on something like cancer can be made a full issue in healthcare before we even fully understand cancer in itself. As for the “inadequate support system” Seb described in African American communities, that is something that can be addressed and perhaps be the root of some health issues (beyond just cancer) however, it is also a tough issue to tackle because that may be apart of that community’s nature and not something that can easily be changed suddenly. All this being said, I still believe there is health disparities and room for improvement for some demographics and that is something we as potential healthcare professionals can address.

  3. I think the way to eliminate health disparities in this specific example dealing with cancer is to inform the public about what cancer is. I believe less educated individuals tend to act like cancer is something that should be “toughed out” because they do not understand it. They could see it as any old illness that can be treated quickly and efficiently with medicine. By running cancer information campaigns, we can teach people what it means to have cancer and explain the importance of being supportive to cancer patients.

  4. It’s so sad that this day in age we still are treating people differently because of race and gender. Something as important as health should be just as accessible for everyone. It should be about saving people’s lives and creating better living for people, all people, not a certain race or gender. Getting rid of subconscious judgements is difficult and something everyone needs to work at in able to make healthcare better for everyone because everyone deserves the best care.

Leave a Reply