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B’Me Report: vivid portrayal of life for black cancer patients and carers, access to treatments services and support during COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown

The report is entitled: Cancer and Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic:  Black African and Black Caribbean Cancer Patients and Carers.  B’Me commissioned this study to support our ongoing work in developing a more detailed understanding about the experiences of black cancer patients and carers during lockdown, and to contribute to the emerging body of knowledge. The focus of the research was on the day-to-day lived experiences of cancer patients and carers. The report, which was supported by a range of organisations, includes a collection of in-depth personal case studies that provide a vivid illustration of life with cancer, caring for someone with cancer, and the anxieties that are part and parcel of the journey.  The report also explores the impact of enforced isolation, on the mental health and general wellbeing of cancer patients and carers, and the effect of the lockdown on access to cancer treatment, support, and other services. There are also deeply painful experiences that are shared of very suddenly losing a loved one to COVID-19. 

It is the case that black African and black Caribbean people, and people from other minority ethnic groups, have a disproportionately higher rate of COVID-19 diagnoses per 100,000 of the population, and a disproportionately higher risk of adverse outcomes, including death, if they contract it. The observed disparities in COVID-19 occur against a stark backdrop of existing social and economic inequalities, and existing health inequalities.  COVID-19 mirrors, reinforces, and compounds existing health inequalities in the distribution of disease, and this includes the incidence of cancer where black people have poorer outcomes than is the case for the population generally. There is also a disproportionately higher incidence of certain types of cancer among black people, for example, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma, where the risk for both is double that of the population as a whole, and where the median onset age for both is on average, five years younger.  The NHS Long Term Plan 2019 specifically mentions better care for people with cancer and places a particular emphasis on improving access to personalised care and services, and tackling disparities in health and health outcomes.

 

 

 

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