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Dr Lathan on Community-based Cancer Evaluation Services in Underserved Patient Groups

Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH, discusses socioeconomical and clinical findings from a clinical outreach program incorporating cancer diagnostic services and patient navigation for patients from traditionally underserved populations.

Christopher Lathan, MD, MS, MPH, chief, clinical access and equity officer, Christopher and Constance Hadley Family Chair, associate medical director, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and deputy associate director for community engagement, faculty director, Cancer Care Equity, senior network physician, associate professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, discusses socioeconomical and clinical findings from a clinical outreach program incorporating cancer diagnostic services and patient navigation for patients from traditionally underserved populations.

A colocation model in the community setting for potential cancer care services to expedite evaluation and resolution of potential cancer diagnoses in the community setting for underserved populations. Investigators analyzed the characteristics of patients referred to the program from January 2012 to July 2018.

The main goal of the study to observe a median time to diagnostic resolution of cancer-related clinical issues of 21 days, compared with the historical 32 days previously observed at Federally Qualified Health Centers, Lathan says. Among patients with a new, existing, or prior cancer diagnosis in the cohort (n = 82/366), the median time to resolution was 12 days (95% CI, 8-21), compared with 28 days (95% CI, 18-28) in patients with no cancer diagnosis. The study found that median time to resolution did not differ by race, ethnicity, sex, age, insurance, language, employment status, or education.

Among secondary findings from the study, investigators were surprised by the number of patients enrolled onto clinical trials, Lathan expands. Ten percent of the overall cohort (n = 37/366) were enrolled in a clinical trial at a cancer center, including 24% (n = 20/82) of patients with a cancer diagnosis. All 9 patients on an active cancer treatment were enrolled in a clinical trial. Historically, patients that fall into underserved populations are less likely to be enrolled into clinical trials, Lathan says.

Lathan also explains that allowing patients to be exposed to specialized cancer care services within a community setting may have assisted in navigation and patient/provider trust. In the study, Lathan and colleagues concluded that clinical access disparities could be addressed through the integration of cancer evaluation services within community-based primary health care settings.

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