Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cancer and Health Disparities

Yesterday, I attended a lunch elective on African American Health Disparities. It was a talk given by Dr. Mack Roach, the chair of Rad Onc at UCSF, who strongly believes that research focuses too much on attributing biological/genetic differences between races to cancer outcomes. It was a fascinating talk filled with numerous study results and I realized a few things:

1) It's almost impossible to separate which cancer outcomes are biologic and which are psychosocial given the limits of our current studies.

2) Dr. Roach is correct in that there is an inherent bias for positive studies and this impedes funding/publishing, etc. His work showing that racial differences do NOT affect outcomes has been hard to publish for this reason. It makes me glad that we have someone at UCSF pushing for this counterview.

3) I get really excited seeing a powerpoint with lots of data from cancer studies

4) Is my fate as an oncologist sealed?

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