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Personalizing Care for Patients of All Backgrounds

In oncology—as in all types of medicine—providers treat patients from all backgrounds with personal histories unique to each one. Recognizing and understanding patients’ personal characteristics such as culture, language, religion, financial status, education, lifestyle, and identity can be as important as clinical factors in choosing and customizing effective treatment plans. Cancer treatment regimens that do not take these variables into account can inadvertently perpetuate established disparities in cancer care and outcomes.

To best meet the individual needs of the diverse patient populations they serve, multidisciplinary cancer care teams must appreciate their patients’ distinct characteristics and personalize their care if they want to achieve optimal health outcomes. This begins with having an awareness of disparities in healthcare delivery, treatment, and outcomes, and cultivating a willingness to seek and mitigate past and current injustices in clinical practice.

According to information about health disparities cited by the National Cancer Institute:

  • Within all racial/ethnic groups, Black people have higher death rates for many cancer types.
  • Black women are more likely than White women to die of breast cancer.
  • People living in rural Appalachia have a higher incidence of colorectal, lung, and cervical cancer than people living in the region’s urban areas.
  • Regardless of race or ethnicity, people with more education are less likely to die prematurely from colorectal cancer than people with relatively less education.
  • While Hispanic and Black women experience cervical cancer more often than women in other racial/ethnic groups, Black women have the highest rates of cervical cancer death.

To combat the continuation of these and other patient disparities, community cancer centers need practical solutions, supportive resources, and training for their multidisciplinary cancer care teams. In response to that need, Personalizing Care for Patients of All Backgrounds: Insights for the Multidisciplinary Cancer Care Team proposes to arm community care teams with the tools they need to identify and address healthcare injustice and to personalize care plans based on individual patient preferences and factors.

An extensive effort, this initiative includes the creation of patient and provider surveys to provide insight into patient needs and provider knowledge and resources; a video series that demonstrates implicit bias in community practice and practical solutions for mitigating that bias; a dynamic online library of tools and resources care teams can use to guide treatment planning; and a checklist to support the personalization of care in the community setting.

For more information about this project, please contact Doreen Effange, DHSc, MPH, MBA, PMP®, Senior Program Manager.


Our Partners

Virginia Mae King Foundation

The Latino Cancer Institute logo_250x76Cancer-Support-Community_Logo_250x50StupidCancerLogo_200x200

Our Supporter

Pfizer-200x80Funding and support provided by Pfizer Oncology.