Study finds significant absence of data on cancer in Black communities

A significant lack of research on cancer in Canada’s black community is taking a toll on the population and there is an urgent need to collect data to improve health care systems and patient outcomes, according to a new study. I have.

While the United States has long established that cancer outcomes are often worse for blacks, Canada has failed to gather even a basic understanding of the experiences of racialized people in healthcare. , the study authors told

Researcher at the University of Ottawa We performed a meta-analysis of the medical literature It included examining whether gaps and disparities were being addressed by assessing the state of cancer research in the Canadian black community.

The study found no black community data on the 20 most common cancers in Canada.

And those results weren’t surprising, said Elisabeth Dromer, a doctoral student in the university’s psychology department and one of the study’s lead authors, in an interview with Wednesday. I’m here.

“Canada has a history of ‘colourblindness’, whether in society or research,” she said. In her study, she explained, that meant the data on populations were not split by race, nor were they asked about race during the study.

Dromer adds research findings that often group all non-white people together, without recognizing differences between groups and differences in needs and experiences.

“In a situation where we don’t collect data, it’s not surprising that there is so little information,” she said.

need to identify gaps

Especially in 2023, in the shadow of the pandemic, the continued approach of ignoring race in health care will become a major concern as it prevents us from quantifying the problems and barriers to care that affect patients. It’s a concern, said associate Jude Mary Senna. A professor at the School of Psychology and lead author of the study, in an interview with Wednesday.

It is well established that racialized populations were more affected by COVID-19 in Canada and coped with a higher infectious disease burden. Widespread screening delays and gaps in healthcare have disproportionately affected blacks in particular.

According to the Black Health Alliance, this is due to systemic racism within the health care system, For decades of ignoring the neighborhood Where more racialized people and immigrants live.

Dromer said the disparity in breast cancer survival among blacks is one example of a disparity that needs to be identified using data in Canada.In the United States, black women 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.

Some doctors are leading campaigns in Canada to encourage similar reductions in the screening age for blacks. “It’s getting harder,” she said.

Elisabeth Dromer (right) is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Ottawa and co-author of the study. Jude Mary Cénat (left) is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and the lead author of the study. (attached)

“There’s this inequality, this injustice, and black women aren’t being screened as early as they should be,” Dromer said.

The study also notes that 2 in 5 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime and 1 in 4 will die from the disease.

Other information found by the US includes black Americans 50-90% more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than other Americans. In Canada, no studies have included black samples when testing for pancreatic cancer.

However, studies examined by the review found that black Canadians had lower quality health care and were less likely to undergo screening, including cervical cancer screening.

Sena said there are concerns in Canada that data collection could foster racism in the health care system.

But this is not true, he said, because when black people enter the health system, providers see them as black, so it’s strange that data collection practices ignore this fact.

“They know your skin color because they see you. Without race-based data, we cannot develop race- and culture-adapted policies,” he said. .

Culture-related care needs

Historical and continuing discrimination in the health care system has led many racialized communities to mistrust the system and can create a stigma around discussing cancer, especially within the black community. Dr. Mojola Omore, a Toronto-based surgical oncologist, told last. Month.

In addition to online misinformation, health systems that either don’t screen certain groups or make it easier to answer questions create barriers to health care, she said.

Culture-related care, Omole said, includes creating ads about screening that include people of multiple races and creating ads about how cancer shows up on darker skin tones. It is included.

Guidance is needed from those in the black community, Cénat said, and pursuing research and data collection will help providers know how to approach race in ways that help rather than hurt patients. .

“It’s an urgent issue because it’s about the lives and mortality rates of the black community and how to remove racism from the healthcare system,” he said.

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