Science is expanding at breakthrough speeds, and we are learning more and more about the disproportionate effects of cancer on different races and ethnicities. This is no different when it comes to prostate cancer. In the US, African-American men have the highest risk of developing prostate cancer. They are twice and five times as likely to die from the disease as Caucasians and Asian-Americans, respectively. Similar observations were made among African descent populations in the Caribbean, South America and the United Kingdom. In Africa, prostate cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer, with men from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) experiencing the highest rates of prostate cancer mortality in the world. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has projected an alarming 101% increase in the mortality rate for this disease in SSA over the next two decades.
To highlighted the importance of addressing prostate cancer in Black men, while building collaborations between scientists and advocates, the 3rd Biennial Science of Global Prostate Cancer Disparities in Black Men Conference was organized by three international NCI-supported cancer epidemiology consortia, namely the Trans-Atlantic Cancer Consortium, the African Caribbean Cancer Consortium and the Men of African Descent and Carcinoma of the Prostate Consortium, in Montego Bay, Jamaica on November 5th - 8th, 2014. The goal of this conference was to develop and maintain a global community of practice that will continue to address common challenges in eliminating prostate cancer disparities worldwide. Jamaica was chosen as the conference location due to the high burden of prostate cancer in this country.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Conference on Smoking or Health in Mumbai, India released the first-ever report on the global use and public health impact of smokeless tobacco: Smokeless Tobacco and Public Health: A Global Perspective.
The mission of the National Cancer Institute, Center for Global Health is to create sustainable international partnerships, support programs that address global gaps in research and scientific training, and disseminate information and best practices that drive improvements in cancer research and cancer control. In partnership with the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Indonesia on detail with the Ministry of Health this past spring to address important global issues of cancer control and cancer research I was positioned in the MOH, Cancer Sub-Directorate, and worked closely with Dharmais National Cancer Hospital, academic partners, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other non-profit organizations to pursue U.S-Indonesia cooperation on tobacco control and research opportunities.
In Indonesia, the current smoking situation is nothing short of a dire public health emergency. Tobacco smoking prevalence is very high among Indonesian men with 67% of men smoking, and although smoking is low among women, it appears that rates among women are increasing rapidly. Additionally smoking rates are quite high among youth with 41 percent of boys starting at an earlier age, when compared to neighboring countries. Nevertheless, it is an unfortunate reality that for those youth that do not smoke, 78 percent are still exposed to secondhand smoke at home or in public places and 69 percent are exposed to secondhand smoke at home. Overall, smoking kills at least 225,000 people each year in Indonesia.
We have posted many blogs, generally, on the topics of cancer control and prevention enhancement, cancer research facilitation, and building capacity in low- and middle-income countries. It’s quite easy to see how pediatric cancers can get lost in the mix. My background in pediatric cancers has inspired me to act as an advocate, representing the many children facing cancer, through my work with partners to promote cancer control worldwide.
During my recent trip to Toronto, Canada in late October, I met with several colleagues from UICC, Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey; University of Toronto; SickKids Hospital of Toronto, Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Center during the International Consensus Meeting: Guidelines for Pediatric Cancer Staging. During this meeting, one topic of focus was the importance of population-based registries for pediatric cancers. Since the incidence of pediatric cancer is relatively constant worldwide, strengthening population-based registries to collect data on the extent of disease at diagnosis would be helpful in determining if late diagnosis may explain difference in outcome globally. Discussions were held on the importance of establishing an appropriate and reliable staging system that could withstand the numerous challenges presented when working on a global level. One of the many impressive outcomes from this meeting included the development of key guidelines, formed by consensus, for the uniform, global reporting of staging for pediatric cancers. These guidelines take into account limited accessibility to high-precision technologies used for disease staging in low- and middle-income countries. This knowledge reiterates the need for valuable measures of success in cancer control that can be met through sustainable pediatric cancer registries that deliver quality data across the globe.
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I would like to take this opportunity to announce the new NCD coordinator for the National Cancer Institute, Dr. John Flanigan. John will work across NCI and the other NIH ICs to coordinate efforts in addressing common risk factors for non-communicable diseases. He will also provide expertise in our engagement with the Caribbean and devise a plan to strengthen global pathology.