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Diversity Partnerships

Brawley says health disparities have socioeconomic, education components

Collaboration is at the core of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer’s work to fight all forms of this disease. New partnerships are needed to affect change for a wider population and work has begun on an initiative to partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and others to extend the Cancer Gold Standard accreditation program to new communities.

Dr. Otis Brawley, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University, presented statistics showing that African Americans have the highest cancer death rate and the fastest decline in cancer death in America. He said the decline was due to wise early detection and advances in cancer treatment and prevention. Brawley said cancer deaths could be reduced by 60% if we paid attention to known risk factors (smoking, obesity, diet, exercise, etc).

“More and more we are talking about socio-economic disparities and … state-by-state disparities,” Brawley said. About 22% of the anticipated cancer deaths per year are preventable if all Americans received known medical prevention and treatment. “The issue of health disparities is not just a racial minority health issue but really a socioeconomic and education issue.”

Our focus should be on disease prevention – smoking, diet and exercise, alcohol avoidance, vaccination – and getting optimal basic care (screening and treatment) to all people. He said patients who are uninformed and unable to access care are at a dangerous disadvantage. “The most concerning disparities are the ones that we could solve,” he said.