Dr Amila Patel Highlights Findings on Disparities in Immunotherapy Delivery

Data presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting found non-White patients are less likely to receive immunotherapy for head and neck cancer, said Amila Patel, PharmD, chief clinical officer, Navigating Cancer.

Data presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting found non-White patients are less likely to receive immunotherapy for head and neck cancer, said Amila Patel, PharmD, chief clinical officer, Navigating Cancer.

Transcript

Research presented at the annual meeting of ASCO used Navigating Cancer's data to evaluate the clinical and non-clinical factors associated with immunotherapy. What were some of those key findings?

In that study, we specifically looked at a head and neck cancer patient population, those that are in the Medicare population, specifically, over the age of 65. And what we found was that beyond kind of the normal clinical drivers for utilization, there was a significant difference in terms of race and ethnicity. Patients that were White were much more likely to receive immunotherapy than their non-White counterparts in that study.

Knowing there are factors associated with being more likely to receive immunotherapy, what are some changes that can be made in how care is delivered?

I think that we need to try to remove as many barriers as possible for these patients. Today, we know that there are a lot of social determinants of health that might inhibit access to immunotherapy treatment. At Navigating Cancer, we're trying to address this by screening patients for the other aspects of their life that might impact their ability to receive immunotherapy, such as financial toxicity, mental health screenings, transportation issues.

And then I think the other thing too, is that health literacy is quite important here, as well. So, patients need to be educated around why these treatments are being prescribed to them, what the utility is of them, and how it's beneficial for their care. We provide a lot of digital education materials through our platform that are very timely and personalized to the patient so that we can start to break down that barrier of health literacy, as well.