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Special Spotlight: 2014 AACR Conference: The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved

December 1, 2014, by CRCHD staff

In early November, a community of health professionals and researchers gathered together at the 7th American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved to share effective interventions and strategies to reduce the burden of cancer across diverse populations, as well as to stimulate new research in cancer health disparities.  The conference provides a venue for multidisciplinary professionals to come together and brainstorm solutions to better serve racial/ethnic minorities and the medically underserved. The conference’s educational sessions and presentations covered a variety of timely topics, from biological, socio-environmental to psycho-behavioral, including genomic instability, risk prediction, biospecimen donation and utilization, survivorship, screening, community interventions, and obesity and cancer in underserved populations. 

At this year’s conference,a number of NCI/CRCHD-funded investigators and community health educators from NCI-designated cancer centers had the opportunity to present their clinical and behavioral research, as well as interventions to reach local population groups who experience significant cancer health disparities.

One of the focuses of the conference was on community engagement, and how to attract and retain racial and ethnic populations. Among the presentations in this area were some from community health educators from CRCHD’s National Outreach Network program:

Evelyn Gonzalez, MA, a community health educator at Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) presented on the importance of inclusion of racial and ethnic groups when embarking on new and improved methods of cancer screening, prevention, and treatment. The CRCHD-funded FCCC project “Strengthening Our Understanding of Research through Community Engagement” (SOURCE) specifically targets African American and Hispanic communities to identify their motivators and barriers to research participation, and address any general concerns they have. By working with community partners and using actual study scenarios and/or recruitment synopses, participants were engaged in a series of bilingual dialogues addressing biospecimen collection, and prevention and treatment trials.  A unique aspect of the project included basic and behavioral researchers assisting with the dialogues, bridging the gap between researchers and community. The results from the study will be used to strengthen community education efforts and institutional recruitment practices.

Janet Sanchez, MPH, from the NCI New Mexico State University – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center PACHE partnership, also presented on a targeted community outreach approach to address colon cancer disparities among underserved populations. Through the partnership, a program assessment tool was created to evaluate the effectiveness of the Inflatable Colon , which was developed as an educational tool to change negative perceptions of cancer screenings . Specifically, the assessment measures whether or not participants changed their behaviors to obtain colon cancer screenings after receiving information about the disease.

Helen Lam, PhD, RN, from the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC), stressed the importance of establishing a practical framework to integrate the lessons learned from science into community health care. At UCCCC, Ms. Lam and her colleagues employ a multi-level “push and pull” model that is agile enough to adapt to social influence (what the community needs or wants) and new innovative models that can improve community education/outreach.

We encourage you to visit the AACR website to learn more about the conference and read about some timely topics addressed at the event.

Resources:

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