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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A review of the effects of healthcare disparities on the experience and survival of ovarian cancer patients of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

  • Author(s): Kaufman, Matthew
  • Cruz, Ana
  • Thompson, Janese
  • Reddy, Srinivasa
  • Bansal, Nisha
  • Cohen, Joshua G
  • Wu, Yanyuan
  • Vadgama, Jay
  • Farias-Eisner, Robin
  • et al.

Ovarian cancer (OC) is a serious condition that often presents at advanced stages and has high mortality rates, with the current mode of early-stage screening lacking sensitivity and specificity. OC often presents asymptomatically, which renders early diagnosis difficult. Furthermore, many patients lack significant risk factors or family history of the disease. Five-year survival rates differ between patients with OC among racial, ethnic, and social groups as a result of different social barriers. This review article aims to present the currently existing data regarding health care disparities among OC patients of different ethnic, demographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and what next steps should be taken to better understand and eventually eliminate these potentially devastating health care disparities. Increasing data support the notion that a combination of genomic, socioeconomic status, social factors, and cultural differences lead to differential treatments and therefore health care disparities. While genomic and biological factors are important, language barriers, geographic and travel barriers, differences in comorbidity likelihood between populations, and different treatment plans seem to have a greater impact on 5-year survival rates of patients from diverse backgrounds. Language barriers limit a shared-decision model of care. Transportation limitations and geographic differences can lead to limited follow-up and insufficient care in resource and equipment restrictive settings. Patients with these barriers also tend to have a higher incidence of comorbidities that raise the mortality rate of OC. Further research needs to explore effective solutions to bridge health care disparities and understand why they occur.

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