November 17, 2023

Disparity in core cancer services at hospitals serving Black, Hispanic patients

Editor's Note

Hospitals that serve a high number of Black and Hispanic patients are much less likely to have advanced medical equipment and core services needed to provide effective cancer care. These research findings were published in JAMA Oncology on November 16. 

The researchers analyzed patient data from 4,373 hospitals, 432 of which serve high numbers of Black patients, and another 432 that serve high numbers of Hispanic patients (among these, 62 hospitals also served a high number of Black patients).

They found that hospitals serving high numbers of Black and Hispanic patients offered far fewer core services, specifically: 

  • access to PET/CT scanners
  • palliative care
  • esophageal cancer ablation services
  • several radiotherapy techniques
  • diagnostic radiology services
  • chemotherapy 
  • robotic surgery
  • tobacco treatment programs
  • support groups 
  • acute inpatient psychiatric consultations.

The researchers say many of these services are indispensable to quality cancer treatment and prevention. For instance, a PET/CT machine is needed for precise cancer diagnosis and monitoring, and the ability to perform ablations for esophageal cancer has a major impact on treatment outcomes and survival rates.

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