Dr Obeng-Gyasi on Breast Cancer Mortality Rates in Resource-Poor Neighborhoods

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Samilia Obeng-Gyasi, MD, MPH, discusses breast cancer mortality rates in resource-poor neighborhoods.

Samilia Obeng-Gyasi, MD, MPH, surgical oncologist, assistant professor, Division of Surgical Oncology, The Ohio State University (OSU), member, Cancer Control Program, OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCC)—James, discusses breast cancer mortality rates in resource-poor neighborhoods.

In a retrospective study conducted at the OSUCC—James and the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center from 2012 to 2020, investigators examined patients diagnosed with stage I to stage III breast cancer, Obeng-Gyasi begins, saying that the study evaluated the potential correlation between neighborhood contextual factors, such as residency, biological stress measured by allostatic load, and cancer outcomes, including mortality. Using the Ohio Opportunity Index, investigators assessed various components of neighborhoods, encompassing aspects such as transportation, education, employment, health services, housing, crime rates, and environmental conditions, she reports. This comprehensive index aims to identify disparities in neighborhood resources and opportunities, distinguishing between resource-rich and resource-poor areas, Obeng-Gyasi states.

These findings revealed a notable association between residing in resource-poor communities and elevated levels of biological stress, as indicated by allostatic load, as well as increased overall mortality rates compared with individuals in resource-rich areas, Obeng-Gyasi expands. These results are consistent with prior research indicating that individuals inhabiting resource-deprived neighborhoods tend to experience more aggressive forms of breast cancer, higher mortality rates, and poorer overall outcomes, she adds.

Furthermore, implications of this study underscore the importance of incorporating social determinants of health into patient care, Obeng-Gyasi expands. A holistic understanding of patients' environments and available resources is crucial for delivering comprehensive care and achieving optimal outcomes, she says. By acknowledging neighborhood contextual factors and individual-level variables, health care providers can adopt a more holistic approach to patient care, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes, Obeng-Gyasi elucidates.

The integration of social determinants of health data enables health care facilities to identify and address deficits and needs among patients effectively, according to Obeng-Gyasi. Leveraging the resources available, oncologists can collaborate with patients to access the support and resources necessary to enhance their overall well-being and treatment outcomes, Obeng-Gyasi concludes.

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