Treatment of Cancer Cultural Term Paper

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[. . .] We must move away from our multi-tiered and unequal health system structured on the basis of race, ethnicity and class, toward one that equitably serves all Americans." (Fedigan, 2004) Scientific research continues to make great strides into the causes of cancer and also into to the recovery from the disease.

Cancer research moves at an obviously incremental rate constantly making small strides into the eventual cure of the disease. Advances should affect all cultural and minority groups, however, there are factors such as cultural and ethnic beliefs that may cause the disparity in how the results from research laboratories can be distributed amongst the overall population.

But minorities have other issues to contend with. For example, stop smoking programs are a major battle line in the treatment of cancer. "Smoking cessation among African-Americans is a primary health objective for the nation. African-American women are more likely than their counterparts to have a high dependency upon nicotine. Studies with African-American women report lower quit rates than those for whites." (Goldsmith, 2003) So the cultural issues of smoking are different for blacks and should therefore be addressed differently.

This report aims to show that these cultural and ethnic beliefs should be addressed so as to help those in need of the cancer related treatments that work and are readily available. If after many years of testing in cell and tissue treatment does not get utilized in the Muslim community because it goes against a fundamental religious or cultural belief, individual Muslim suffering from the disease may be made to suffer unnecessarily simply because the person cannot obtain certain medicines or treatments in his locality.

Purpose of Project

There purpose of this project was to identify the cultural or ethnic beliefs that can obstruct the treatment process. The key is to identify the beliefs to see if they warrant some truth. If it is possible, all individuals suffering with cancer should obtain the best possible treatment program available no matter what cultural beliefs are overshadowed.

'Healthcare is not immune to the deeply rooted inequalities in American society." (Das, 2003) Minorities and other cultural groups should be able to fully utilize cancer treatment clinical trials; they feel that the treatment of cancer is different depending on the socioeconomic status, age, geographic area, race or ethnicity and language; they feel that certain religions are treated differently and is a major indicator on the overall treatment of cancer; they feel how cultural and minority groups treat the gender roles will provide a unique approach to the treatment of cancer; and they are not fully aware of disease management programs because of their minority and cultural beliefs.

Specifications for individual segments of our population need help from policy makers and funding agencies. Cancer patients come from all scopes of life including gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, disability, geographic location, or sexual orientation. The many new languages, customs and other cultural factors, or other special health needs all impact the treatment of the cancer patient.

Chapter Two

Overview

'Nowhere is the United States' obsession with race more clearly displayed today than in the health and healthcare disparities between White Americans and African-Americans." (Fedigan, 2004) This report addresses five ethnic or cultural beliefs that effect the treatment of cancer patients. Differences in health outcomes like the treatment of cancer can usually be judged unavoidable. Healthcare treatment inequities exist mainly because our population has an unequal access to resources like education, health care, clean air, and water or the possibility to choose to live or work in healthy situations.

Both the legal and healthcare professionals continue to work to achieve an equitable healthcare system. The system must provide a hopeful scenario for social and economically challenged minority. As the system continues to improve, cultural and minority related beliefs must be addressed to ensure that racial and ethnic inequalities are being reduced.

The following cultural beliefs have been addressed through this literature review to see how real they are:

Minorities do not take advantage of cancer treatment clinical trials

There is a great disparity in treatment based on socioeconomic status, age, geographic area, race or ethnicity, language, customs and other cultural factors

Certain factions of the population integrate healthcare into their religion which affects treatment programs

Cultural and minority related gender roles

Disease management programs can help in the treatment of cancer for minorities and culturally diverse groups.

Review Of The Literature

Today's standard cancer treatments are the result of yesterday's clinical trials. Successful clinical trials often increase the survival rates of participants with the more dangerous forms of cancer like testicular or breast cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma. Trials also decrease the morbidity rate that is associated with surgical treatment scenarios of many cancers. Clinical trials also help create new approaches or techniques that aid in the reduction of side effects from cancer therapies. But minorities are far less likely to be in clinical trials than whites. It is has been reported in the U.S.A. today that although more than sixty percent of children with cancer participate in clinical trials, only three percent of adults with cancer participate. And of those three percent, less than twelve percent are minorities. Whites feel clinical trials work but the cultural beliefs of minorities often keep them out of the studies.

There is a great disparity in treatment based on socioeconomic status, age, geographic area, race or ethnicity, language, customs and other cultural factors. The BBC news recently pointed out from a study that the elderly and people from deprived areas often are not administered chemotherapy. "The study reinforces earlier findings which suggested people from poor areas get their cancers diagnosed later - and are more likely to die. Colorectal cancer is one of the biggest killers in the UK. By the time symptoms become apparent, the cancer is frequently quite advanced." (Unknown, 1999) To contrast this with the affluent patients with cancer, the most affluent were 1.5 times more likely to be treated with the chemotherapy treatments compared with the poorer areas of Britain.

The poor may be right to assume they will not get the necessary treatment compared to the rich. "The health gap between minority and non-minority Americans has persisted, and in some cases, has increased in recent years. African-American men, for example, experienced an average life expectancy of 61 years in 1960, compared with 67 years for their white male peers; in 1996, this gap increased to 8 years, as white males enjoyed an average life expectancy of 74 years, relative to 66 years for African-American males. American-Indian men in some regions of the country can expect to live only into their mid-fifties. Further, African-American and American-Indian infant mortality rates remain approximately 2.5 and 1.5 times higher, respectively, than rates for whites." (Das, 2003)

Certain factions of the population who integrate healthcare and religion may not receive necessary treatment programs. In contrast, to our Western culture, the emphasis in the Muslim tradition of Saudi Arabia is on a physician being kind and charitable even if that means withholding critical information in regard to the treatment of cancer. "Here, the patient is viewed as one member of a larger family and the family is responsible for the patient. The consent for the patient's treatment is usually a substitute consent given by family, whose purpose is to avoid disturbing the patient emotionally. This policy of beneficence also relies on health professionals as authority figures who can be trusted to do what is best for the patient, as seen from the point-of-view of the family. (Darr, 2002) There may some inclination by a physician in a country like Saudi Arabia to withhold information from the patient and only confide in a male relative. The spouse may never be informed of the details of the treatment out of religious respect. "Similarly, in Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country, the doctor's experience plays a role in communication and truth-telling. Relatives and spouse as social supports are the recipients of this truth-telling. In the Egyptian community it is rare to find a patient, particularly one with rural roots, visiting a doctor alone; he/she usually is accompanied by two or three relatives." (Darr, 2002) In comparison, in Japan, physicians consider the Hippocratic obligation to the patient first but the decision to disclose the cancer diagnosis and relative treatment is left to family members who often do not choose to tell the patient of his or her fate.

Cultural and minority related gender roles have not changed. Cancer is blind to the gender line. Breast cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer related death for women in the United States with almost two million women facing a future diagnosis over the next ten years. But science is just now finding an alternative solution for the treatment of breast cancer than the radical mastectomy. "Why do so many… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Treatment of Cancer Cultural.  (2004, February 16).  Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/treatment-cancer-cultural/2359380

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"Treatment of Cancer Cultural."  Essaytown.com.  February 16, 2004.  Accessed February 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/treatment-cancer-cultural/2359380.