Findings from ASCO’s fourth annual National Cancer Opinion Survey showed the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on patients with cancer and the concerns over delays in scheduling cancer screenings. In addition, a majority of survey respondents acknowledged that racism can impact the care a person receives, and more than half said Black Americans are less likely to have access to the same quality cancer care as their White counterparts. However, fewer than one in five believed race has an impact on the likelihood a person will survive cancer. This is despite evidence that Black patients have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial group for most cancers.
“Racism undermines public health, and it specifically affects patients with cancer,” said ASCO President Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO, in a statement. “For almost every cancer, Black Americans fare worse than other racial groups. Now is the time to address the systemic issues of health inequity that negatively impact the health of Blacks and other people of color in our country.”
Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO
How the Survey Was Conducted
ASCO’s National Cancer Opinion Survey is a large, nationally representative survey conducted by The Harris Poll. This year’s survey was conducted online from July 21 to September 8, 2020. All United States residents age 18 and older were eligible to participate in the survey. Among the 4,012 total respondents, 1,142 adults surveyed currently have or have had cancer.
“This survey assesses Americans’ perceptions of a wide range of cancer prevention and care issues during a most turbulent time in our country,” said Dr. Pierce. “We set out to capture Americans’ views during a time of both a devastating pandemic and a national movement for racial justice. Our goal is to better understand public perceptions and address urgent needs and opportunities.”
The Pandemic’s Toll on Patients, Delays in Cancer Screenings, and Attitudes About Cancer Prevention
Awareness That Health Inequities Exist Varies Across Races
Despite Americans’ Willingness to Participate in Clinical Trials, Misunderstandings Are Widespread
“Of the nearly 2 million people who receive a cancer diagnosis each year in the United States, less than 5% of adults enroll in clinical trials,” said ASCO’s Chief Medical Officer Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO, in a statement.
Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO
“This is due in part to pervasive and persistent myths about trials and concerns that they are only a last resort. We need to do a much better job of educating our patients about the benefits of clinical trials. The fact is that clinical trials often offer patients the best—or sometimes only—treatment option for their condition, and these trials offer hope to individuals and at the same time are also the best way to make progress against cancer for everyone,” he concluded.
View the full set of new findings from ASCO’s National Cancer Opinion Survey.The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.