February 4th is commemorated as ‘World Cancer Day’. This year’s World Cancer Day theme is “CLOSE THE CARE GAP”. About 10 million people succumb to cancer every year. It is the 2nd leading cause of death. 70% of cancer deaths occur in the developing countries. 33% of cancers are preventable.
The main objective of celebrating ‘World Cancer Day’ is raising the awareness of the cancer. Risk factors associated with cancer include Alcohol, Tobacco, Diet & Nutrition, Physical Inactivity, Obesity, Genetic predisposition etc.
Cancer signs and symptoms can be remembered by the abbreviation “C.A.U.T.I.O.N U.S.”, that stands for :
C: Change in bowel or bladder habits
A: Any sore that does not heal
U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
N: Nagging cough or hoarseness
U: Unexplained anaemia
S: Sudden and unexplained weight loss
Cancer care occurs along a spectrum that begins with prevention, screening and diagnosis, and continues through treatment into survivorship. Care gap is a reality that affects cancer patients throughout the world, leading to inequalities of cancer care.
Barriers such as income, geographical location, education, age, race, disability, ethnicity, life style are some of the examples which prevent the access to quality cancer care.
Rural-non rural disparities in cancer care are widening. Patients in rural areas face number of issues when it comes to cancer care, right from the lack of awareness to adequate screening and disease stigma, which needs attention. They also face limited access to cancer care providers, long travel times, financial burdens, and low recruitment to clinical trials, all of which affect quality of care and health outcomes.
There is an urgent need to design multiple strategies to decrease nationwide inequalities in cancer care. Some of the strategies for increasing patient access to care requires decreasing travel distances, mitigating financial burdens, opening avenues for clinical trial participation by rural residents, and creating partnerships between providers and community leaders to address local gaps in care. Local solutions should be based on community needs and available resources.
The American Oncology Institute is committed to spreading awareness of the equity gap while also providing cancer specialists with the expertise, equipment, and efficiency required to correct inequalities and close the care gap.