On June 3, 2020, ASCO President Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO, issued a statement on racism and health inequality. An excerpt from the statement follows:
Months ago, when I defined a theme for my year as ASCO President, “Equity:Every Patient. Every Day. Everywhere,” I never imagined we would experience a health-care pandemic that would disproportionally impact people of color. Nor could I know this would be the moment when yet another brutal crime against an African American would so capture the nation’s attention and bring long-simmering pain to the surface.
Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO
We know that racism undermines public health, and we know it deeply affects patients with cancer. Racial and ethnic minorities face poorer outcomes, are less frequently enrolled in clinical trials, and are less likely to be offered palliative care, genetic testing, and other critical care. Specifically, African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest length of survival of any racial ethnic group for most cancers.
We cannot tolerate these inequities any longer. We must commit the same energy and focus we pour into conquering cancer to addressing systemic issues that affect the health of people of color in our country.
The oncology community must confront and address complex forces and systems that have created disparities in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and research. At ASCO, we are embedding a health-equity lens into all our programs. More than ever, we are committed to using our collective voices to advocate for policies that improve access to insurance coverage and affordable care for all patients.
As always, ASCO is here to support you as you go about your important work caring for patients with cancer. In the days and weeks ahead, we welcome your ideas and participation in advancing this dialogue throughout ASCO and promoting long overdue equity in all aspects of cancer care and research.
You can find the full statement on ASCO in Action.
© 2020. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.