New study shows that black cancer patients did worse with COVID-19
New study shows that black cancer patients did worse with COVID-19

New study shows that black cancer patients did worse with COVID-19

Black cancer patients perform worse with COVID-19, according to the results of a new nationwide study. The study – published this week in Journal of the American Medical Association monthly publication, Network Open – looked at the health records for more than 3,500 patients.

Black people represent 13% of the U.S. population, but account for 20% of COVID-19 cases and 23% of COVID-related deaths.

Dr. Dimpy Shah is one of the authors of the study. She was part of a cancer and COVID-19 consortium that began as a grassroots movement from a tweet who addressed concerns with black patients who had cancer and COVID-19. The consortium eventually became an organization of 125 cancer centers from the United States, Canada, and Latin America.

The organization maintains a registry that collects information about patients with cancer who have also been diagnosed with COVID-19. From that information, they collected data with the follow-up results: changes in cancer treatment, COVID-19 interventions, and the long-term results with COVID 19. The reports showed that COVID-19 was disproportionately affected by black patients and black individuals.

Shah said black patients with cancer have the highest death rates compared to all other racial and ethnic groups. She added that the majority of the differences in health outcomes between black patients and white patients are due to systematic racism.

“Some of the societal root causes of health inequalities include lack of access to health care, social care and pre-existing comorbidities, and access to clinical research are common to both cancer and COVID 19, and together these two diseases create a perfect storm.” said Shah.

The lack of education, awareness and access to health care combined with a distrust of the medical profession among the minority population has resulted in low vaccinations.

“If these inequalities continue to worsen, then we will see many more differences and health outcomes. We urge all our cancer patients to be vaccinated, to be boosted, as the boosters are recommended,” Shah said.

“At a societal level, we want this to be addressed with the lens of structural racism because it’s important to improve baseline functional studies or baseline physiology so that patients are immune to all new threats that come our way.”

Shah said the message with home is that it is not the disease but it is how our society is set up that creates division that leads to worse outcomes in one racial group versus another.

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