Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in morbidity and mortality from a wide range of cancers continue to plague the U.S health care system.  Unequal Treatment, a report by the Institute of Medicine, found multiple reasons for these disparities, including socioeconomic status, education, and health insurance access, among others. Genetic and physiological explanations may also be behind some of the disparities. 

However, even when studies control for genetic and physiological factors, disparities still exist, meaning that we as caregivers have the opportunity and duty to improve systems of care to reduce disparities.  The incidence and mortality of four cancers – breast, cervical, colon, and lung - are higher than the state average in Chelsea, Revere, and Charlestown. Each of these cancers can be prevented or detected early to improve outcomes, but cultural, language, and economic barriers often prevail. CCHI partners with the Mass General Cancer Center to implement prevention, outreach, education, and “navigation” of the health care system to help patients overcome barriers to screening and care.

Mass General has secured funding from the Avon Foundation and other foundations and corporations to increase screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer in the highly diverse community of Chelsea.  Our breast and cervical programs also aim to ensure timely follow up for all MGH Chelsea patients with abnormal screens, particularly immigrant Latina women with limited English proficiency. CCHI has plans to develop similar programs to prevent and reduce the incidence of cancer, and improve health outcomes, while meeting the unique needs of the Revere and Charlestown communities.

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