Improving Health Equity and Reducing Disparities in Pediatric and Adolescent/Young Adult Oncology: In Support of Clinical Practice Guidelines

Authors: Justine M. Kahn MD, MS1 and Melissa Beauchemin PhD, RN, CPNP1
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  • 1 Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Stem Cell Transplantation, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, NY
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Despite extraordinary strides in cancer therapy over the past 30 years, racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and age-related survival disparities persist. Hodgkin lymphoma offers an excellent paradigm to understand these disparities because successful approaches are well established in both the up-front and relapsed treatment settings. The following review, which accompanies the 2021 NCCN Guidelines for Pediatric Hodgkin Lymphoma, suggests that systemic inequities in cancer care disproportionately affect minority and low-income children, adolescents, and young adults, and directly contribute to observed disparities in cancer-related outcomes. It proposes that the first step toward reducing disparities is large-scale dissemination of guidelines, because equity is best achieved when treatment approaches are clear, comprehensive, and standardized across all clinical practice settings.

Submitted January 18, 2021; revision received March 30, 2021; accepted for publication April 20, 2021.

Disclosures: The authors have disclosed that they have not received any financial consideration from any person or organization to support the preparation, analysis, results, or discussion of this article.

Funding: This work is supported in part by the Lymphoma Research Foundation (J.M. Kahn) and by an NCI Training Program in Cancer-Related Population Sciences (NCI T32CA094061; M. Beauchemin).

Correspondence: Justine M. Kahn, MD, MS, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Stem Cell Transplantation, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, 161 Fort Washington Avenue, IP7, New York, NY 10032. Email: jk2034@cumc.columbia.edu
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