Education and Prevention

Erin O | Staff Member |

The National Institute of Health was the first to define “health disparities”: Health disparities are differences…

in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States.”  Therefore, when I think of “healthy”, I think not only of the improvement in an individual’s well-being, but of decreasing the gap of cancer-related incidents among specific populations.

Disparities in cancer incidences among different racial, ethnic, and under served groups often are lack of health care coverage and low socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic status often predicts an individual’s access to health insurance and education. For example, lack of education can play a role in influencing behaviors that increase risk factors, such as smoking cigarettes, being obese, or not following cancer screening recommendations. These individuals are most likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancers that might have been more effectively treated if they were diagnosed earlier. However, lack of education can also be a factor when determining the type of job someone obtains, as many jobs offer minimal or no health insurance.

While I think the research and work being done on the clinical side is impressive and fascinating, I think that efforts should be increasingly focused on educating individuals in general and on cancer-specific topics. Because while researchers might be closing in on finding a cure, the prevalence of the disease will decrease only minimally if there is not focus on increasing education and access to health coverage.

Comments

  1. Years ago, now 7, when I was diagnosed with rectal cancer, I was in the best shape of my life. I was at a school event for one of my children and two different people had asked if I was training for a marathon. I love to walk. It’s wonderful for me. I thought some of the weight loss was from my daily mileage and the good food I was eating, i.e., learning to enjoy fish instead of rib eye steak.
    Little did I know, the marathon would be getting through a diagnosis, treatment and after effects that are with me. I’m glad that I was ‘ready’ in a way, stronger, for what was to come.
    Yesterday, I pulled on my favorite walking shorts and remembered a time when I would put shorts very much like these next to my bed on top of my sneakers and socks. I slipped them on before I did anything else when the time had come to get back to my walks, my ‘health’. There have been times, even now, when pain interferes with my life but I can walk without pain, so I do. Every day. It’s become my measure of how well I’m doing. I choose a song on my Ipod as my theme for a given day, I stand on the front step, stretch a little, bless myself, (smile), and go, go, go. Today it will be ‘Better Day’ from the Goo Goo Dolls and yesterday it was ‘I’m Still Standing’ by Elton John. I pray for others first and then myself and I try not to worry as much as I did about changes that could mean a recurrence. I have too much to do and people to love, and health abounds in that.
    Yes, in spite of it all, I am in the best health of my life.
    Time for a walk.

    kathleen h. | | 9:47am

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