publication date: Jun. 5, 2020

What We Believe

The Cancer Letter staff: Alexandria Carolan, Katie Goldberg, Matthew Ong, Paul Goldberg

It is not a matter of editorial opinion to say these words: Black Lives Matter.

The existence of systemic racism, social inequality, and health disparities is indisputable, and not a matter of bias or opinion. This is grounded in science and data.

Cancer does not discriminate. Our social infrastructure does.

The Cancer Letter strives to give you unbiased, balanced coverage grounded in standards of evidence-based medicine, the principles of peer review, disclosures, health equity, and social justice.

Our coverage since 1973 has adhered to this mission. But all of us must do more.

Diversity is fundamental to fair and balanced coverage, and to achieving health equity. As a news publication, we must amplify the voices of those who have been historically marginalized. This requires an ongoing, concerted effort in a world where the people who hold the keys to power are disproportionately white and male.

NCI should be commended for emphasizing Community Outreach and Engagement as a key criterion for the designation of cancer centers. However, as a logical next step, we must also examine diversity at the cancer centers.

Of the 71 directors of NCI-Designated Cancer Centers, the vast majority are white and male. One is African American. Nine are women.

What does the leadership pipeline look like? We don’t know. No robust data exist on the diversity among directors and deputy directors of NCI-designated cancer centers. These data should be generated, and made publicly available.

All of us—scientists, physicians, and journalists—have a role to play in bringing forward diverse viewpoints. It’s fair, it’s equitable, and it’s essential to good science.

“In my experience, our endemic institutional racism is, and has always been, a public health issue,” Robert Winn writes. “In fact—as a result of the COVID-19 disaster—we are all now finally recognizing that racism is a contributing factor to chronic diseases, including cancer.”

Copyright (c) 2020 The Cancer Letter Inc.