Studies Address Impact of Social Factors on Cancer Treatment Disparities


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New studies reported at ASCO’s 2014 Quality Care Symposium provided insight on the role social factors play in cancer treatment disparities, as well as effective approaches to improving the quality of care.  

“The research presented [here] highlights how the conditions facing people living with cancer can affect their care, but also provides approaches to how we can overcome some of these potential disparities,” said ­Gregory A. Masters, MD, FACP, FASCO, Chair of ASCO’s Cancer Communications Committee. “Improving the quality of care we provide is a continuous goal for oncologists.”

Each of the studies will be presented in more detail in an upcoming issue of The ASCO Post. They include the ­following:

  • Having dependent children motivates advanced cancer patients to pursue more aggressive care: A pilot study of people with advanced cancer indicates that parental status is an important factor in treatment decision-making, with the majority stating that being a parent motivates them to pursue life-extending treatments. 
  • Medicare’s subsidy program improves hormone therapy adherence after breast cancer surgery and reduces racial disparities: A study of more than 23,000 women suggests that the Medicare Part D Extra Help program improves adherence to hormone therapy after breast cancer surgery in all racial/ethnic groups and reduces disparities.
  • Oncologist participation in tumor board meetings may be associated with improved outcomes for patients with lung or colorectal cancers: A new population-based study of close to 5,000 patients and 1,600 oncologists found that physician participation in weekly tumor board meetings was associated with improved survival for patients with stage IV colorectal cancer and stage IV/extensive-stage small cell lung cancer.
  • Death of patients within 1 month of cancer surgery influenced by social and demographic factors: In a new study of more than 1.1 million patients who underwent surgery for the most common or deadly cancers reports nearly 1 in 20 died within 1 month of the procedure. The risk of death was highest among patients who were not married, uninsured, non-white, male, older, less educated, poorer, or had advanced-stage cancer. ■


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