The 2022 Annual Report from Cedars-Sinai Cancer, which is available now, shines a spotlight on ways this expert team, ranked among the top 10 in the nation for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report, has treated more than 60 types of cancer while honoring and expanding a long-standing commitment to health equity.
“Many of our community’s most marginalized members are disproportionately affected by the burden of cancer,” wrote Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer, in his introduction to the report. “We are proud to be counted among the top cancer programs in the nation, but we are most proud of delivering care to the most diverse population in the country and expanding access to people who need us most.”
These efforts include recruitment and promotion to leadership of physicians, researchers, fellows and other trainees from populations underrepresented in science, and the establishment of a community advisory board that includes representation from the Black, Latinx, Filipinx, Korean, South Asian, Pacific Islander and LGBTQ+ communities.
Community-Based Outreach and Engagement
The report also provides an overview of Cedars-Sinai Cancer’s community engagement programs.
To address health equity issues in the LGBTQ+ community, the Cancer Research Center for Health Equity has created new gender-neutral cancer screening guidelines to better serve transgender and gender-nonconforming patients, and developed a tobacco cessation initiative serving LGBTQ+ teens and an End HPV campaign for dissemination at various Southern California Pride events during 2022.
The Health and Faith Initiative, led by multilingual staff in partnership with 15 churches that serve more than 8,000 community members, provides science‐based cancer information to underserved communities and facilitates translational research.
To address the rising incidence of breast cancer in the Korean population, the Cancer Research Center for Health Equity has launched a mentoring program and community educational activities to promote cancer awareness among young Korean American women. The center is also conducting a study based in Korean churches to enhance adherence to breast cancer screening guidelines.
Diverse Research and Clinical Trials
On the research front, Cedars-Sinai Cancer physician-scientists are creating breast organoids—miniaturized and simplified versions of organs grown in petri dishes—based on tissue samples from diverse populations to broaden the scope of their understanding. These organoids allow them to study the effects of hormones on transgender patients undergoing gender-affirming surgery, the causes of breast cancer in Koreans, and other cancer disparities.
Researchers are also working to increase cancer treatment trial participation among patients from racial and ethnic minority communities, which continue to be under‐represented in cancer research. Cedars-Sinai Cancer participated in a national pilot project—a joint initiative between the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Association of Community Cancer Centers—to test a research site self-assessment tool and an implicit bias training program.
The Cancer Research Center for Health Equity’s Community Outreach and Engagement team has also established the Clinical Trials Equity Initiative and launched a multi‐level, multicultural program to ensure clinical trials across the cancer spectrum are accessible to racial, ethnic and gender minorities.
The department’s Equitable Pathways to Cures for Breast Cancer effort employs multicultural and multilingual enrollment navigators familiar with racial and ethnic minority communities and with barriers that contribute to low enrollment rates in breast cancer trials.
“Our commitment to bringing exceptional research and care to as many people as we can remains steady,” Theodorescu writes. “I am thankful to lead Cedars-Sinai Cancer during this time, humbled by what we have achieved and energized by the exciting breakthroughs that lie ahead.”
Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Raising Awareness of Leukemia in the Latinx Community