Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hope for Hispanics Accessing Cancer Program

AUGUSTA, GA (PR) – The GRU Cancer Center has been awarded a five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to lead the state’s only cancer research program focused on better access to clinical trials and cancer treatments for minority and underserved patients.

Working in partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine, University Cancer and Blood Center, and the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University – the Community Oncology Research Program Minority/Underserved Community Site at GRU Cancer Center will aim to increase awareness of, and participation in, NCI-sponsored clinical trials and cancer care delivery research throughout Georgia, particularly among minority and underserved populations.

As the only site of its kind in Georgia, and one of just 12 selected nationally, the GRU Cancer Center–led consortium will contribute to the design, conduct, and translation of the national NCORP research agenda, particularly studies pertaining to minority and underserved populations. Key stakeholders and community partners will help to set priorities for community-based cancer research and work collectively to address the historic barriers that have stood in the way of minority and underserved patients participating in clinical trials and other important cancer research.

“We are honored to work with our colleagues from around the state to build on more than a decade of experience serving as a Minority-Based CCOP,” said Dr. Samir N. Khleif, Director of the GRU Cancer Center. “And, we appreciate NCI’s confidence in the ability of the GRU Cancer Center and our outstanding NCORP partners to positively impact the tremendous cancer health disparities that exist in Georgia among minorities and medically underserved populations. This grant is in perfect alignment with our shared commitment to serve all Georgians with the best possible cancer care.”

Cancer Leading Cause of Death Among Hispanic Americans

In 2012, Rebecca Siegel, MPH, Epidemiologist, American Cancer Society, wrote: “Promoting cancer prevention and control in the Hispanic community is more important than ever because Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority population in the United States.

As we learned from the 2010 census conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 16% of Americans, 50.5 million people, identify themselves as Hispanic. The 43% increase in the Hispanic population over the past decade -- compared to a 10% increase in the total population -- accounted for more than half of the overall population growth.

By 2050, approximately 30% of all Americans will be Hispanic, which means that more and more new cancer patients will be Hispanic.

And what's more, cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics (heart disease causes the most deaths among blacks and whites). Poverty and reduced access to medical services worsen the Hispanic cancer burden: 27% of Hispanics are poor (versus 10% of non-Hispanic whites), and 31% are uninsured (versus 12% of non-Hispanic whites).

As a result, compared to non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics have lower cancer screening rates and are diagnosed with cancer at later stages, when treatment options are more limited and less successful.

Hispanics a Diverse Population

It is important to realize that although cancer statistics are usually given for Hispanics as a whole, the Hispanic community is made up of many diverse subgroups with distinct cancer patterns. This is because Hispanics living in the U.S. come from many different countries and cultures (e.g., Mexico, Central and South America, Cuba, etc).  Although cancer differences within the Hispanic population haven't been addressed in the past, researchers have recently begun to look within subpopulations to uncover these striking variations.

A study of Hispanics in Florida found that the risk of cancer was generally lowest among Mexicans and highest among Cubans and Puerto Ricans, whose risk was more similar to non-Hispanic whites. In fact, the overall cancer death rate among Cuban men was double that among Mexican men, 328 (per 100,000 men) versus 163, respectively. This is largely because Cuban men are much more likely than Mexican men to smoke, which increases their risk of about 20 different cancers.”

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