CardioNerds co-founder Dr. Dan Ambinder, series chair Dr. Giselle Suero Abreu, and episode FIT Lead Dr. Rachel Ohman discuss disparities in cardiooncology with Dr. Javier Gomez Valencia, the Director of Cardio-Oncology services at John H. Stronger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. Dr. Rachel Ohman drafted show notes. Audio editing by student doctor Shivani Reddy.
A disproportionate burden of both cancer and cardiovascular disease affects racial and ethnic minority groups as well as lower-income communities. Similar patterns of vulnerability exist among cancer survivors with cardiovascular disease, although further investigation in these subpopulations is needed. We discuss a comprehensive approach to the cardio-oncology patient, our current understanding of the social and structural determinants of disparities in cardio-oncology populations, and other contributions to inequity in the field. Given the growing population of cancer survivors and limited accessibility to cardio-oncology specialists, these topics are of critical importance to anyone caring for cancer patients who have or are at risk for cardiovascular disease.
This episode is supported by a grant from Pfizer Inc.
This CardioNerds Cardio-Oncology series is a multi-institutional collaboration made possible by contributions of stellar fellow leads and expert faculty from several programs, led by series co-chairs, Dr. Giselle Suero Abreu, Dr. Dinu Balanescu, and Dr. Teodora Donisan.
Pearls and Quotes – Disparities in CardioOncology
- Social and structural determinants of health are drivers of cardiovascular and cancer disparities. Existing data on cardiotoxicity outcomes suggests these determinants also contribute to disparities in cardio-oncology.
- Assessing social and structural determinants of health should be a routine part of evaluating a patient with an active or prior history of cancer.
- Customs, country of origin, and immigration status matter. Differential risk profiles among Hispanic/Latinx sub-populations require further investigation.
- Black patients, particularly black women with breast cancer, have elevated morbidity and mortality from cardiotoxicity. Data suggest contributions from social determinants of health.
- Representation in clinical trials must be diversified for applicability to our diverse patient populations. Concerted efforts should be made to recruit diverse clinical trial participants and help patients from diverse communities effectively participate in the research process, contributing to the advancement of science.
Show notes – Disparities in CardioOncology
How do you approach the evaluation of a new patient in cardio-oncology? How do social and structural determinants of health impact treatment-associated cardiotoxicity?
- The evaluation of a new patient should include an assessment of a patient’s intrinsic risk factors, risks associated with cancer treatment, and consideration of cardioprotective therapeutic strategies
- Social and structural vulnerabilities should also be assessed routinely as a part of risk stratification. Providers should take stock of a patient’s demographic (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender), socioeconomic (e.g., occupation, insurance status, food security, housing security), environmental (e.g., transportation, proximity to health resources, neighborhood safety), and sociocultural (e.g., psychosocial stressors, discrimination, acculturation) determinants that are in turn modulated by larger systemic forces like structural racism.
- This comprehensive risk assessment can guide the strategies to mitigate cardiovascular risk before, during, and after cancer treatment.
What barriers to cardio-oncology care are unique to the Hispanic/Latinx population?
- The Hispanic/Latinx population now comprises 19% of the US population. A disproportionate fraction of the Hispanic/Latinx population is uninsured (about 20%).
- In addition to insurance barriers, some members of this population can face difficulties from language barriers and limited access to preventative care.
- Existing data suggest differential risk profiles for sub-populations of Hispanic/Latinx patients based on country of origin, customs, and immigration status. Further research is needed to investigate disparities among different sub-populations.
What disparities are faced by Black patients with cancer?
- Black patients have an elevated risk of morbidity and mortality from cancer and are more likely to develop cardiotoxicity than their White counterparts. Black patients with breast cancer who receive anthracycline or HER2-directed therapy have a two- to three-fold risk of cardiotoxicity when compared to their White counterparts.
- Black patients with HER2+ breast cancer treated with trastuzumab are more likely to develop LV dysfunction than White counterparts, even after controlling for age, disease state, and cardiovascular risk factors. This suggests a role for social determinants of health that have yet to be elucidated.
How can patients’ sexual orientation and gender identity influence disparities in cardio-oncology, particularly for LGBTQIA+ patients?
- Some of the barriers this population faces are related to social stigmatization as well as structural discrimination (e.g., lack of providers with appropriate expertise).
- Difficulties with accessing trusted providers can impair patients’ ability to have longitudinal care and optimal cardiotoxicity surveillance.
What other areas of cardio-oncology might contribute to ongoing outcomes disparities, and how should we approach those disparities?
- Underrepresentation of minority groups in clinical trials is an ongoing issue. It results in our extrapolating data from homogenous populations and applying it to more diverse populations not represented adequately.
- Clinical trial enrollment requires more diverse and inclusive recruitment and visibility. However, we also should help patients and communities feel included in the research process, particularly given historical examples of medical exploitation.
- The landscape of cardiology providers also requires diversification. A diverse workforce benefits patients as well as providers.
- Cardiologists and healthcare providers also need to engage in political advocacy to help advocate for underrepresented vulnerable groups to combat socioeconomic disparities and public health crises that create barriers to optimal care.
References – Disparities in CardioOncology
- Addison D, Branch M, Baik AH, et al. Equity in Cardio-Oncology Care and Research: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2023;148(3):297-308. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000001158.
- Ahmad J, Muthyala A, Kumar A, Dani SS, Ganatra S. Disparities in Cardio-oncology: Effects On Outcomes and Opportunities for Improvement. Curr Cardiol Rep. 2022 Sep;24(9):1117-1127. doi: 10.1007/s11886-022-01732-2. Epub 2022 Jun 27. PMID: 35759170; PMCID: PMC9244335.
- Branch B and Cosway D. Health Insurance Coverage by Race and Hispanic Origin: 2021. American Community Survey Briefs. 2022 Nov 22. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2022/acs/acsbr-012.pdf.
- Ohman RE, Yang EH, Abel ML. Inequity in Cardio-Oncology: Identifying Disparities in Cardiotoxicity and Links to Cardiac and Cancer Outcomes. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Dec 21;10(24):e023852. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.121.023852. Epub 2021 Dec 16. PMID: 34913366; PMCID: PMC9075267.
- Sirufo MM, Magnanimi LM, Ginaldi L, De Martinis M. Overcoming LGBTQI+ Disparities in Cardio-Oncology: A Call to Action. JACC CardioOncol. 2023 Mar 7;5(2):267-270. doi: 10.1016/j.jaccao.2022.11.017. PMID: 37144105; PMCID: PMC10152199.
- Suero-Abreu GA, Patel S, Duma N. Disparities in Cardio-Oncology Care in the Hispanic/Latinx Population. JCO Oncol Pract. 2022 May;18(5):404-409. doi: 10.1200/OP.22.00045. PMID: 35544659.
Meet Our Collaborators
International Cardio-Oncology Society ( IC-OS). IC-OS exits to advance cardiovascular care of cancer patients and survivors by promoting collaboration among researchers, educators and clinicians around the world. Learn more at https://ic-os.org/.