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Closing the Cancer Care Gap – Research Highlights from PLOS ONE

To celebrate World Cancer Day 2022, we are highlighting some of our favorite articles on this year’s theme, “Close the Care Gap”. Our Call for Papers on Cancer and Social Inequity also spotlights this topic, and is open for submission until March 8th.

Gaps in cancer care may result from reduced availability, affordability, and access to healthcare services, including screening. These issues are felt particularly acutely in low-resource settings in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but can also be affected within countries by social factors including socioeconomic status, race, gender, disability, and more. Recent social movements and the COVID-19 pandemic have brought issues surrounding social inequity in healthcare to the forefront.

Research Highlights

The following PLOS ONE articles all describe research addressing this topic, either by identifying and highlighting gaps in cancer care, or assessing solutions to close care gaps and promote more equitable outcomes.

A close-up view of a catheter (a soft thin tube) placed in an African-American woman's arm to deliver chemotherapy.
Rhoda Baer, National Cancer Institute

Powell and colleagues estimate the impact of the Affordable Care Act on colorectal cancer outcomes and racial disparities in North Carolina (NC), a state that did not expand Medicaid. The study uses individual-based simulation models to explore population-level impacts of policy interventions.

A map of Brazil depicting the spatial distribution of adjusted mortality rates for breast cancer

In this ecological study, de Oliveira and colleagues analyze the spatial distribution of late stage diagnosis and mortality of breast cancer, and its correlation with socioeconomic indicators and health service availability

Ultra-low-dose computed tomography image of a pleural nodule

Sayani and colleagues explore the barriers and facilitators to lung cancer screening in low-income individuals living in Toronto. Using qualitative methods, researchers identified and analyzed three themes: pathways of disadvantage, lung cancer risk and early detection, and safe spaces of care.

Hands being washed in a sink
slavoljubovski, Pixabay

The impact of COVID-19 on cancer care has been significant. In this paper, Edge and colleagues explore patient, caregiver, and healthcare worker perspectives on the disruptions and reorganization of cancer services in Australia since the onset of COVID-19.

A mobile phone next to a stethoscope
StockSnap, Pixabay

In this Study Protocol, Baleydier and colleagues test a smartphone app designed to improve access to cervical cancer screening in Cameroon. The app uses computer-aided detection techniques to improve the objectiveness of triage of HPV-positive women. This is proposed as a low-cost screening tool suitable for LMICs.

Submit Your Research

We are very excited to be curating a Collection of papers for PLOS ONE on the topic of Cancer and Social Inequity, and we are still accepting submissions to this call.

We aim to highlight the negative impacts of social inequities on health, identify the effects of social and corporate policies on access to healthcare services, and propose solutions to promote more equitable cancer outcomes and ultimately, social justice. We’re also interested in data exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted cancer care.

Our Guest Editors Prof. Vesna Zadnik (Institute of Oncology, Ljubljana, Slovenia), Dr. Nixon Niyonzima (Uganda Cancer Institute, Kampala, Uganda), and Prof. Claudia Allemani (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK) share their thoughts on why this topic is important, and their motivations for conducting research in this area in a recent interview.

We welcome submissions to the Call for Papers reporting research in epidemiology, public health, clinical trials, implementation science, and health economics, including manuscripts reporting systematic reviews, qualitative studies, and research protocols.

Submit your papers here by March 8th 2022.


Baleydier I, Vassilakos P, Viñals R, Wisniak A, Kenfack B, Tsuala Fouogue J, et al. (2021) Study protocol for a two-site clinical trial to validate a smartphone-based artificial intelligence classifier identifying cervical precancer and cancer in HPV-positive women in Cameroon. PLoS ONE 16(12): e0260776.

Edge R, Meyers J, Tiernan G, Li Z, Schiavuzzi A, Chan P, et al. (2021) Cancer care disruption and reorganisation during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia: A patient, carer and healthcare worker perspective. PLoS ONE 16(9): e0257420.

Oliveira NPDd, Cancela MdC, Martins LFL, de Souza DLB (2021) Spatial distribution of advanced stage diagnosis and mortality of breast cancer: Socioeconomic and health service offer inequalities in Brazil. PLoS ONE 16(2): e0246333.

Powell W, Frerichs L, Townsley R, Mayorga M, Richmond J, Corbie-Smith G, et al. (2020) The potential impact of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion on reducing colorectal cancer screening disparities in African American males. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0226942. .

Sayani A, Vahabi M, O’Brien MA, Liu G, Hwang S, Selby P, et al. (2021) Advancing health equity in cancer care: The lived experiences of poverty and access to lung cancer screening. PLoS ONE 16(5): e0251264.

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