Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Ways To Address Racial, Ethnic Disparities in Cancer Mortality
The Tennessean on Friday published an editorial and three opinion pieces responding to cancer mortality among minorities. The following summarizes those articles.
Tennessean: While it is "great news" that the number of overall cancer deaths in the U.S. has dropped for the second consecutive year, it "is not fantastic news ... that African-Americans nationwide have not shared in this success," the editorial says. According to a recent American Cancer Society report, U.S. blacks have the highest mortality rate from cancer among all other ethnic and racial groups. In addition, black men have a 15% higher rate of cancer than white men and a 38% higher death rate from cancer than white men. Black women have a 9% lower cancer rate than white women, though they have an 18% higher death rate from all forms of cancer than white women. The report attributed the drop in overall cancer mortality to a decrease in the number of people who smoke and improvements in the detection and treatment of certain cancers, the editorial says. However, "[u]nfortunately, not everybody understands or pays attention to those facts" for a variety of reasons -- including cultural differences, low incomes and lack of access to care -- the editorial adds. It says, "Whatever the reason, health providers, lawmakers, religious institutions, relatives and everyday citizens have to help spread the word about how beneficial prevention, early detection and treatment can be in the fight against cancer" (Tennessean, 1/26).
- Bettina Beech: The solutions to racial and ethnic disparities in cancer mortality rates "must be as multifaceted as the problem," Beech, associate director for health disparities research at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, writes in an opinion piece. She says that cancer research should continue, adding, "We must support institutions, such as Meharry Medical College, that are dedicated to producing well-educated, well-trained health professionals of all ethnicities, conducting the research and providing the health care that will make a difference for the underserved." In addition, she calls for a "focus on barriers of poverty, geography, language and systems that prevent people from receiving appropriate health care" (Beech, Tennessean, 1/26).
- John Bell: "The goal of curing cancer is complex and diverse," Bell, director of the University of Tennessee Medical Center's Cancer Institute, writes in an opinion piece. He calls for programs to "reach diverse populations" and teach them about preventive care and programs that would expand research efforts at all levels. In addition, he suggests focusing on ways to deliver optimal care to all people. Further, "Corporate America must reinvest profits, government must maintain scientific research as a high funding priority, and individuals must continue to advocate on all levels to ensure adequate funding is available to support these efforts and strategies" (Bell, Tennessean, 1/26).
- Rose Grindstaff: "We have proof that we are making great strides against [cancer]. We must now renew our efforts and make sure that everyone reaps the benefits," Grindstaff, president of the American Cancer Society's Greater Nashville Board of Directors, writes in an opinion piece. She suggests ways to reduce cancer mortality disparities, including ensuring equal access to prevention tools, continuing to support cancer research and joining together community members to address the disparities (Grindstaff, Tennessean, 1/26).