Impact of Patient Intersectionality on Cancer Care

Dr. Timothy M. Pawlik, MD, PhD, MPH, and Dr. Samilia Obeng-Gyasi, MD, MPH, surgical oncologists from  The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute  discuss a new study published in “Psyco-oncology” that finds the risk for poor cancer outcomes in patients with overlapping inequities is higher than historically marginalized groups. Patients with intersectional identities often experience barriers to cancer care that adversely impact screening, diagnosis, treatment, as well as survivorship. To solve this problem, the researchers call for an “intersectional lens” in future cancer research to create a more patient-centered approach to cancer care. Additionally, providers need to learn about this issue to tailor cancer care to the unique identity of each patient. 

I am a surgical oncologist with a focus on treating patients with liver, gallbladder, pancreatic and neuroendocrine tumors. I serve as the surgeon-in-chief of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the chair of the Department of Surgery in the College of Medicine and a professor of surgery in the same department. In addition to my medical degree, Master of Public Health and PhD, I also have a master’s in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, and hold the Urban Meyer III and Shelley Meyer Chair for Cancer Research. I was named to the Castle Connolly list of “Regional Top Doctors” from 2012-2019.

My approach to cancer is not only professional — it’s personal. As someone who comes from a family afflicted by cancer, I know all too well how difficult it can be to grapple with the diagnosis of cancer. I strive to deliver the best care possible in a multi-disciplinary method that fosters shared decision-making, empowerment and compassion with the patient, family and members of our cancer treatment team.

Research is critically important to me, and I’ve participated in hundreds of published studies. As a member of the Cancer Control Program at the OSUCCC – James, my research focuses on better understanding the factors associated with prognosis and staging around gastrointestinal cancers. In addition, I have an interest in studying patient-physician communication and patient engagement, as well as patient perception around goals of cancer care. I have authored or co-authored more than 700 articles in leading scientific journals, written over 50 book chapters and edited five surgical textbooks.

At the OSUCCC – James, I’m delighted to be part of a wonderful team that shares the goal of beating cancer.

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