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Disparities in Lung Cancer Detection: Moving Toward Equity & Inclusion

Tue, 11/01/2022 - 09:00

Old woman holding her hands to her chest on black background

New Brunswick, N.J., November 1, 2022 – Communities, organizations and health professionals are taking action to improve inequalities in lung cancer detection. Anita Kinney, PhD, RN, FAAN, FABMR director of the Cancer Health Equity Center of Excellence at Rutgers School of Public Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s leading cancer program and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center together with RWJBarnabas Health, explains the impact of disparities on lung cancer, how these disparities are being addressed today and where to find screening resources.

Why screen?

If lung cancer is found at an earlier stage, when it is small and before it has spread, it is more likely to be treated successfully.

What is the impact of racial disparities on lung cancer outcomes?

According to the American Lung Association, Black Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders and Indigenous people who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans because they are less likely to be diagnosed early. According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer disproportionately impacts Black men more than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States and in New Jersey. Factors contributing to disparities may include socio-economic status, access to healthcare, geographic location, and work exposures.

What is being done to address these disparities?

  • The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) updated its lung cancer screening guidelines in 2021 to include more members of vulnerable populations, including Black people
  • Researchers are examining topics such as racial differences in smoking behaviors, genetic differences in lung cancer, screening decision making and more to better tailor approaches to lung cancer screening and treatment for minority populations
  • Programs are being created to help providers identify their own implicit bias as well as to recruit more minority patients to clinical trials
  • Through community outreach and engagement, underserved communities are receiving more education about cancer screening, treatment and research
  • In our communities, we’re encouraging one another to educate ourselves and others about cancer prevention and talking with doctors about lung cancer risk and lung cancer screening eligibility 

What resources are available for screening and how do I learn more about them?

To help reduce the incidence of lung cancer, ScreenNJ was developed under the leadership of Rutgers Cancer Institute in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health. This resource can be utilized to find screening programs and information about the types of testing and benefits for numerous cancers, including lung.

 

Learn more about the Cancer Health Equity Center of Excellence in partnership with the Rutgers School of Public Health, which works to address cancer health disparities through research and program initiatives.

Dr. Kinney is also associate director for Population Science and Community Outreach and Engagement at Rutgers Cancer Institute, professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at Rutgers School of Public Health, and director of ScreenNJ, a statewide cancer screening program that aims to increase screening for lung and colorectal cancer.

 

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