African American Cancer Disparities and Compassion

  • Christine Thomas Elmhurst College


African American patients tend to have worse overall rates of cancer survival compared to white patients due to racial disparities in screening, diagnosis, and treatment management. In this paper, I explore this issue by looking at the racial disparities that emerge in screening, diagnosing, and treating various types of cancer. The implicit bias that is present when healthcare clinicians interact with African American patients influences the cancer survival rate for this population. One possible solution to address this problem would be to establish and practice medicine with an emphasis on compassion. A compassion-based model of medicine will allow for healthcare clinicians to prioritize their patients’ needs, setting aside their own assumptions and healthcare system priorities in the process. I advocate for two policy implications related to using a compassion-based model of medicine: 1) teaching and training healthcare clinicians the importance of compassionate care early on in medical education, and 2) implementation of guidelines for those already practicing to help them move toward compassionate care.