• A person holding a sign saying world cancer day
03 Feb | Cultural Calendar | Diversity & Inclusion

World Cancer Day: Close the Care Gap

World Cancer Day is a global initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). They aim to raise awareness, improve education and to catalyse personal, collective and government action. The theme for World Cancer Day is Close the Care Gap and it is a 3-year campaign with 2022 focusing on ‘Realising the problem’ and 2023 focusing on Uniting our voices and Taking Action’. The third year of this Close the Care Gap campaign is ‘Together, we Challenge those in Power’

From an equality, diversity and inclusion perspective, we know that there are still many health inequalities especially with minoritized and under representative groups in society. So, focusing on the theme of uniting our voices and taking action, we first need to know whose voices we are taking action for.

Breast cancer is the most diagnosed form of cancer for women regardless of race/ethnicity (Yoo, Levine & Pasick, 2014). However, they also found that women of colour tend to be diagnosed at later stages and with a more advanced cases with black women specifically being more likely to be diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Around 25% of black African women and 22% of black Caribbean women are diagnosed with stage 3 or stage 4 breast cancer at diagnosis in England. This compares to 13% of white women. There are many reasons why these statistics exist, one of which is the awareness and knowledge of symptoms and risk factors. This could be due to not being taken as seriously when going in for general check-ups, cultural and language barriers and a lack of tailored interventions. The lack of tailored interventions is quite important to note as science found that there are significant differences between white and black women in the way DNA repair genes are expressed in both healthy breast tissues and cancerous tumours. So understanding patients, their background and culture is important in trying to close the care gap as it can be the difference in the type of treatment and interventions needed.

Research looking at the differences in cancer incidence by broad ethnic group in England, 2013 – 2017 (Delon et al, 2022) found that between 2013 and 2017, incidences of cancer tended to be higher for White ethnic groups in England in the majority of the cases. However, Black males are 2.1 times more likely to have incidences of prostate cancer, myeloma is between 2.7 to 3.0 times more likely to occur in those who are Black. Hodgkin lymphoma 1.1 times higher in males of Asian ethnicity and thyroid cancer being 1.4 times higher in people of Asian ethnicity. This suggests that there are some factors that we still do not understand when looking at this area no matter the type of cancer.

We need to understand how we can create better care for all members in society and not just have one way to treat all people. To be more inclusive, we need to consider different cultures, as in some cultures its taboo to talk about cancer or there is a lack of trust which results in people not being seen until their cancer is too advanced. We need to unite and take action to create spaces where people are able to feel seen and heard, we need to understand the different cultures and experiences so initiatives can be developed to help all individuals received the best care possible.

We need to better understand the reasons why there are these differences and the impact it has on patients' experiences and outcomes so we can close the care gap.

If you want to find out more about the differences in cancer incidence in relation to ethnicity, the Eleanor Glanville Institute will be hosting Dr Christine Delon, who will be talking about her research as part of our Race Matters Lecture Series on the Thursday, 6 April 2023.