Mary Jo Lechowicz, MD
Improvement in health-care delivery to all has been a regular theme in the United States’ news headlines for many months now. Hematologic disorders, unfortunately, are also an area where access to good care is irregular. Today from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. in rooms 293-296 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, an Education Program Session will address ongoing initiatives and research to improve treatment outcomes.
Dr. Lillian Sung of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is moderating today’s session. In discussing the importance of this education session, Dr. Sung said, “The nature of disparities may be highly variable and range from issues related to age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity or race, and access to health care, among many other factors. This symposium will illustrate the effects of a range of such disparities and efforts that are being made to address these inequities in health-care delivery.” The three presenters will discuss their research and insights into improving care for patients with hematologic malignancies.
In a paper recently published in Cancer, Dr. Shabbir Alibhai from the University Health Network in Toronto and his colleagues retrospectively reviewed all patients diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) included in the Ontario Cancer Registry from 1965 to 2003, with regard to referral to a specialized cancer center (SCC), receipt of chemotherapy, and patient outcomes. Factors which improved survival included referral to an SCC and receipt of chemotherapy; both of these occurred less commonly in patients over age 60. Today, Dr. Alibhai’s presentation will explore further how disparities in the care of AML patients over age 60 influence outcomes and how treatment decisions may be modified to improve outcomes.
Dr. Allison King of Washington University in St. Louis, MO, conducts research at the other end of the age spectrum: on the cognitive abilities and academic achievements of children with chronic diseases. Her presentation will focus on children diagnosed with sickle cell disease and outcome measures as they relate to access to care and socioeconomic status. She will explain how these disparities affect children’s cognition and other outcome measures.
Outside North America, resources available for health care vary widely, and there are marked disparities in the ability of health- care systems in various countries to treat patients with hematologic malignancies. Dr. Scott Howard of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has published work on oncology health-care delivery in low- and middle-income countries. His discussion will center on how disparities in a country’s resources affect children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and how, through international collaborations, improvements are being achieved.
For those interested in learning more about such important public health issues, other presentations on health-care disparities will take place today and Sunday night during Poster Sessions on Health Outcomes Research from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., respectively, in Hall E of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, and during the Oral Session on Health Outcomes Research in Lymphoma and Leukemia on Tuesday in rooms 208-210 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m.
Dr. Lechowitz indicated no relevant conflicts of interest.
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