Date of Award

Summer 7-27-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Integrative Biology (MSIB)



Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Evelina Sterling

Major Professor

Dr. Troy Mutchler

Second Committee Member

Dr. Tyler Collette

Third Committee Member

Dr. Nicholas Green


Patients diagnosed with early-staged or curable forms of cancer experience physical, as well as, mental challenges associated with disease progression and treatment. Previous studies have demonstrated that minorities and underrepresented communities did not receive the same level of care in comparison to their non-minority counterparts. Previous studies have also demonstrated that health disparities among minorities affected their cancer journey. This study addressed: how medical disparities varied between minorities and non-minorities, the overall effects of the cancer diagnoses in minorities compared to non-minorities, whether these perspectives differed in male vs. female participants, and whether there were any possible communication barriers between cancer patients and their medical professionals. Participants also discussed the varied and unique experiences of being diagnosed with early-stage or curable cancers based on race/ethnicity, gender, age, and cancer diagnosis. Results indicated that minority and non-minority cancer patients had many similar health disparities and themes; however, minority participants had more health disparities and unique experiences. Male participants also received less support compared to their female counterparts. Lastly, there was a strong correlation between having an involved medical staff team and having a greater cancer experience. Likewise, having a less involved and communicative medical staff team caused patients to have a displeasing cancer journey.