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Cancer Society Issues Health Disparities Policy Statement

Last Updated: April 30, 2009.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology is launching an all-out campaign to eliminate cancer health disparities among Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans, and other minorities who together will account for more than half of the United States' population by the year 2050, according to a policy statement released during a media telebriefing and published online ahead of print April 29 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

THURSDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is launching an all-out campaign to eliminate cancer health disparities among Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans, and other minorities, who together will account for more than half of the United States' population by the year 2050, according to a policy statement released during a media telebriefing and published online ahead of print April 29 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Dana S. Wollins, of ASCO in Alexandria, Va., and colleagues outlined a series of strategies aimed at implementing the ASCO health disparities agenda.

The strategies include support of policies to guarantee equal access to quality health care, regardless of insurance or socioeconomic status; increase awareness of racial and ethnic disparities within the oncology community; diversify the oncology workforce and improve workforce training to meet the needs of minority patients; increase public and private support for health disparities research; enroll more minority patients in clinical trials; and enhance patients' involvement in their cancer care.

"As inferior cancer health outcomes can often be attributed to financial barriers to care, including lack of or inadequate insurance coverage, ASCO urges legislative reform of the current system of health care financing and delivery to remove these economic obstacles for all patients," the authors write. "If comprehensive reform cannot be accomplished by policymakers in the near future, ASCO supports a cancer-specific effort that will provide obstacle-free care at the time of diagnosis."

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