A recent Washington Post article calls attention to another tragic Covid-19 related health disparity: delayed cancer screenings during the pandemic have exacerbated health inequities in cancer outcomes for communities of color. The article, “Covid and cancer: A dangerous combination, especially for people of color: Doctors say people in low-income communities are showing up with advanced cancers because of pandemic-caused delays in diagnosis and treatment,” described this concerning trend. Not only were cancer outcomes worse among Black cancer patients than among White patients prior to the pandemic, but communities of color have also seen a higher burden of illness from COVID-19. This article highlights the troubling additional disparity:
Covid and cancer are a menacing mix — for everyone, but especially for people of color from low-income communities. African Americans and Hispanics are about twice as likely as White people to die of covid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black cancer patients are at particularly high risk for complications and hospitalizations. Even before the pandemic, Black people had lower survival rates for many cancers compared with White people.
Now, with the pandemic grinding on, many doctors fear those inequalities will worsen. “Covid put cancer and health-care disparities on steroids,” [Oncologist featured in the article, Dr. Kashyap] Patel said as he walked through his clinic, offering patients words of encouragement.
“I have never seen this many people presenting at Stage 3 and 4.” (links in original)
The article discussed that some hospitals are stressing at home testing options and hiring more community health nurses in order to improve access to screenings outside of hospitals and medical offices.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy continues to spotlight disparities in care, treatment and outcomes in order to recognize these concerns and strive for solutions. The Center for Medicare Advocacy underscores our commitment to developing and supporting policy proposals that mitigate and eliminate disparities.
October 21, 2022 – K. Kertesz