Ethnic cancer patients invisible to health professionals
The analysis of the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey revealed that ethnic minority cancer patients were twice as
likely to feel that doctors and nurses were deliberately keeping information from them compared to white British cancer
patients (27% compared to 12%).
Macmillan’s existing research also shows that cancer patients from ethnic minority groups experience
challenges and poor treatment throughout their cancer journey. They have reported instances of being treated without
dignity and respect, of poor, ineffective communication, lack of compassion and disregard for emotional distress.
Yvonne Welch from an Caribbean heritage lives in London. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, she says:
“Nobody explicitly confirmed to me that I had lung cancer until after I was operated on, when a tumour and part of my
lung were removed. No-one seemed to want to say the word cancer to me.
“Then when I had a course of aggressive chemotherapy, it was not properly explained to me that the purpose was to
prolong life by 12 months. It was only afterwards that doctors spoke openly about what the aim was.”
Jagtar Dhanda, Head of Inclusion at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“No one should be left feeling ‘invisible’ by health professionals, but it is absolutely shocking that there are such
disparities between the patient experience of ethnic minority and white British cancer patients.
“Discrimination and exclusion can take many forms including basing the needs of a patient purely on preconceived
ideas about their skin colour or ethnicity.