Karen M. Winkfield, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Harvard Medical School
Assistant in Radiation Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Director, Hematologic Services, Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital
DF/HCC Program AffiliationCancer Risk and Disparities
Black American's have the highest cancer mortality of all racial/ethnic groups for almost all disease sites. Although tumor biology for some cancers, including breast and prostate cancer, appear to be more aggressive, presentation at more advanced stages of disease contributes to lower survival rates. While progress is being made and cancer screening rates have increased among blacks, there is confusion regarding recent screening recommendations for breast and prostate cancer. With increased cancer mortality, patients must be well-advised about their cancer risks and if diagnosed, must be adequately informed about treatment options. Physician bias may play a role in the difference seen in disease management and outcomes, yet patient beliefs about cancer and its treatment, including the belief that cancer is inevitable and cannot be treated or negative perceptions regarding treatment modalities, may be contributing factors as well. My research aims to identify and address myths and beliefs that influence decisions related to cancer screening and treatment among black Americans, and to develop an interactive educational tool to provide accurate information regarding health, cancer screening, and cancer treatments, including enrollment in clinical trials, in a culturally sensitive manner.
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