Initiative To Boost Number Of Minority Oncologists

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Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the American Society of Clinical Oncology have partnered to create the Komen/ASCO Diversity in Oncology Initiative, which aims to reduce health care disparities by boosting the number of minority oncologists, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Minorities are disproportionately affected by several forms of cancer. Two percent of oncologists in the U.S. are black and 3% are Hispanic, according to the Plain Dealer.

Derek Raghavan, director of the Taussig Cancer Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and co-chair of ASCO's Health Disparities Advisory Group, said, "The gaps in disparity, especially in oncology, can only be closed with (the addition of more) individuals who are culturally competent, who in some way are able to relate and feel comfortable to these patients." Socioeconomic factors, language and literacy barriers and a mistrust of the medical community also contribute to minorities' access to quality health care. "The ultimate endpoint is to improve survival rates," Raghavan added.

Using a multimillion-dollar grant from Komen over the next two years, the initiative will give monetary awards to support:


* Medical students with oncology rotations and a mentor;

* Oncologists or oncology fellows who have completed training;

* Loan repayments; and

* Travel to annual ASCO meetings (Townsend, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/20).

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