Working together to improve cancer patient outcomes in the Gulf South region
Health disparities or inequalities refer to differences in the health status of different groups of people. Some groups of people have higher rates of certain diseases and greater likelihood of death, compared to others.
Cancer health disparities are often associated with race and ethnicity. But other groups may also experience these disparities, like people from lower income backgrounds. Other groups may be defined by age, disability, gender/sexual identity, education or other characteristics. Research shows that people from medically underserved groups are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage diseases that might have been treated more effectively or cured if diagnosed earlier. Financial, physical, and cultural beliefs are also issues that can keep individuals or groups from receiving adequate health care.
Scientists also believe that biological differences in groups of people may also play a role in some cancer health disparities. For example, there may be biological differences that affect breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers in African Americans differently than people of other racial/ethnic groups. Research and clinical studies are improving our understanding of how biological differences contribute to health disparities and how they potentially impact with other factors, such as diet and the environment.