There is no such a thing as a ' biological ' basis for cancer disparities: A call to end misreporting of the ultimate determinants of health outcomes.
Improved strategies of cancer prevention and control have resulted in tangible benefits for patients with cancer. Disparities in outcome have been reported as a result of inequal access to health care. Historically, differences in health outcomes at population level have been reported according to key characteristics, including race, ethnicity and, more recently, ancestry. These population descriptors have been used to display the differences in the outcome and highlight actionable areas of health disparities, through policy and population health interventions. Yet, they have been commonly mis-intended as ultimate determinants of health outcomes, as recapitulating intrinsic biological differences. A plethora of past literature has described "biological" differences in patients belonging to a specific racial, ethnical or ancestral group, with certain cancers - commonly overlooking the social and economic contextures. The attention has ultimately focused on the existence of intrinsic differences and biological reasons, as opposed to social and economic determinants of disparities in the outcome in disadvantaged or excluded communities, thus nurturing double stigma. In our editorial, we evaluate some key roots of racial attitudes in displaying patient outcomes in oncology epidemiological studies, and call to report ultimate determinants of health - that are, primarily social and economic determinants.
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