PHILADELPHIA—In an effort to reduce and eventually eliminate cancer disparities among adults in the Philadelphia region, the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson has established the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities.
Edith P. Mitchell, M.D., FACP, a medical oncologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology in the Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, will serve as its Director.
Despite the decline in cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States, disparities in cancer burdens continue to exist among certain population groups and the gap continues to widen. The Philadelphia region in particular has a disproportionately high number of residents suffering from cancers, many of which are preventable and treatable.
Such disparities include differences in incidence, prevalence, mortality and burden of cancer and related adverse health conditions. Disparate population groups may be characterized by gender, age, race and ethnicity, income, social class, disability, geographic location or sexual orientation.
“I have dedicated my career to the treatment of cancer patients and have had the opportunity to experience, as a physician and as a researcher, the significance cancer disparities can have on the outcome of a patient’s treatment,” said Dr. Mitchell. “The first step in the elimination of these disparities is to raise awareness through public and professional education about what resources are available to groups in their fight against cancer.”
The Center aims to accomplish its mission through the facilitation of disparities-focused research, researcher and clinician education, training and teaching, and increased patient access to quality supportive services, such as palliative care, cancer screening and prevention, and survivorship programs.
Dr. Mitchell and her fellow clinicians and researchers at Jefferson are dedicated to the ongoing study of cancer and other health disparities among patients of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. They have created strategic priorities for eliminating such disparities through innovative research, education and training, advocacy, community outreach, and quality medical care.
The need for research into cancer, and other health care disparities, has become increasingly evident in recent years as doctors and scientists learn more about how slight variations in genetic makeup can have drastic effects on the way cancer invades an individual’s body. Knowing that these disparities exist can improve how screening processes are established and help doctors understand which treatments will and will not be effective.
Dr. Mitchell has spent her medical career helping individuals in medically underserved areas to realize that simple changes in lifestyle can have a dramatic impact on cancer care. Through her work, Dr. Mitchell has demonstrated the importance of community service and outreach especially to those individuals who may not have the means to seek out more conventional medical advice.
She holds board certifications in both Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology and is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians. She has also served as the Program Leader in gastrointestinal oncology for more than 15 years and has a focused research effort in aggressive breast cancers.
“We want all researchers and clinicians to be aware of the disparities that exist in cancer diagnoses among diverse ethnic groups so that they can incorporate these important factors into their research efforts and clinical practice,” said Dr. Mitchell.
“The Center will also provide patients with contact information for cancer advocacy and support groups both locally and nationally that serve the needs of their demographic background. We are proud to host and sponsor several annual events where patients can come together to share their stories and plan for a future free of cancer disparities,” she said.