I'm Tina James-Tafoya with National Native News.
In today's news, Native Americans and Alaska Natives have some of the highest
rates of cancer in the country. That's according to the National Cancer Institute.
Cancer organizations like the American Cancer Society are highlighting Minority
Cancer Awareness Week. The educational campaigns about the disease began last Sunday.
According the Deputy Director of the Center to Reduce Health Disparities, Native
Americans are a big part of their outreach campaign. Nadarajen Vydelingum heads
the center and says cancer kills many Native Americans every year:
"The American Indians and Alaska Natives continue to have the poorest survival
from all cancers combined than any other racial groups."
Vydelingum says diet, environmental issues and poor quality health care contribute to
the rates of the disease in tribal communities. Cancer is considered the second leading
cause of death in Native Americans. The types of cancer, Vydelingum says, vary depending
on geographic location. For example, lung and colon cancer rates are high in Alaska Native
communities, but Southwest tribes have higher rates of stomach and gall bladder cancer.
Vydelingum adds insufficient data makes it hard to tell just how bad the disease is in
"Many different institutes around the country are trying to build databases and there is no
single national database that accurately presents comprehensive cancer data for American Indians
or Native Americans. There are also well-documented multiple errors and limitations in the cancer
database. But given those limitations, I would also add there are some issues with classification
of Native Americans."
The National Cancer Institute will continue its National Minority Cancer Awareness Week through