Assessing Cancer Health Disparities Within Racial/Ethnic Groups in Tarrant, Dallas, and Bexar County




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Background: Cancer health disparities refers to significant differences in cancer incidence, prevalence, death, survivorship, and burden that exist among different population groups in the United States. Those who have limited or lack access to effective health care are often impacted more severely by cancer compared to the general population. Social and economic factors such as insurance status, income level, neighborhood poverty, and education level also play a large influence in cancer disparities observed among groups. Strong public health policies can serve an important role in reducing cancer health disparities by tackling prevention and early detection, especially within vulnerable populations. Health disparities are particularly pronounced in racial/ethnic groups such as African Americans and Latinos, and even persist when comparing groups of similar socioeconomic status. The findings of this research project will provide valuable information regarding the urgent need to address cancer disparities within Texas counties, especially Tarrant County, Dallas County, and Bexar County. Purpose: Highlight disparities in the frequency and rate of cervical, breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer among racial/ethnic groups within Tarrant, Dallas, and Bexar county to increase awareness for policy making. Methods: County-level cancer data was pulled from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cancer registry. The statistics in this registry were categorized by the patient's racial group. Focusing only on statistically significant changes, we ranked all counties by their average annual percent change (APC) from 2000-2020 trend for frequency and age-adjusted rate per 100,000 population for cervical, breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer. Results: In Tarrant County, the annual percent change of cancer frequency between 2000-2020 were as follows: 2.5% increase for cervix, 2.7% increase for breast, 0.9% increase for prostate, 1.3% increase for colorectal, and 0.6% increase for lung cancer. Also in Tarrant County, the annual percent change of cancer rates from 2000-2020 were as follows: 0.2% increase for cervix, 0.2% increase for breast, -3.1% decrease for prostate, -2.2% decrease for colorectal, and -2.8% decrease for lung cancer. Tarrant county was also ranked 1st in Texas and 5th in the nation for cervical cancer in Non-hispanic black. Dallas county was ranked 7th in Texas and 15th in the nation for cervical cancer in Hispanics. Conclusion: This data brings awareness to certain groups within Tarrant County, Dallas County, and Bexar county that are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer mainly because of their ethnicity. These findings bring up crucial discussions about the underlying factors contributing to the increase in cancer risk among specific ethnic populations, whether it is a genetic association or a socioeconomic association. For example, despite initiatives taken to tackle this disparity, the data shows that Hispanic women are still highly at risk for developing cervical cancer across all three counties. Policymakers and advocates can use this data to identify which type of cancers and ethnic groups require focused intervention and attention in the community.