In 2013, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a workshop summary, Leveraging Culture to Address Health Inequalities: Examples from Native Communities. I was struck by a number of things that are both timely and applicable to the unique challenges faced by the cancer community in America and to patient navigators in particular.
When we are discussing minorities, we are usually referring to African American, Hispanic/Latino, and the American Indian/Alaska Natives in our society. In addition, underserved women are those who have a decreased income and socioeconomic status, lower education levels, commonly lack health insurance, and have limited access to healthcare in general. These patient populations are particularly challenging when facing the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Disparities in cancer are a core job activity that navigators encounter and work against on a daily basis. A recent news release on the disparity between recommendations and practice for breast and ovarian genetic testing was disheartening.
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