If, like many others, you missed it, that’s because it was only for the week of April 10-16 which begs the question: why only 1 week? Typically an entire month is devoted to increasing awareness of specific types of cancers.
Since 1987, the third week in April has been designated National Minority Cancer Awareness Week. But you may not have even heard of it, even though the goal is to promote increased awareness of the prevention and treatment of cancer in minorities and the poor. You may also not know that April is
National Minority Health Month, with the goal of accelerating health equity in the United States. At Connexion Healthcare, as experts in oncology, we are keenly aware of the importance of increasing cancer awareness.
National Minority Cancer Awareness Week gives social workers, physicians, nurses, healthcare professionals, and researchers an opportunity to develop creative approaches to solving healthcare problems — specifically, those related to cancer — that are unique to these communities.
Some of the current goals of National Minority Cancer Awareness Week are to
- Improve early cancer detection through routine screenings
- Implement evidence-based community interventions
- Develop research projects to encourage participation of minority groups in clinical trials
- Expand access to quality cancer care and clinical trials for minorities
- Use multimedia to “market” cancer information to diverse populations in a variety of settings
In the United States, life expectancy and overall health have improved recently for most people, but less so for minorities.
- For all cancers combined, African-American men and women have the highest rates of incidence and the highest death rates from cancer. African-American women are also more likely to die of breast cancer than white women, despite having a lower incidence of this particular type of cancer.
- Cancer has been the number one killer of Asian-American women since 1980.
- In Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and Vietnamese populations, liver cancer occurs 2 to 11 times more often than in whites.
- Hispanics have higher rates of uterine, cervical, liver, gallbladder, and stomach cancer than whites.
- American Indians have the lowest 5-year survival rates for colon and rectal cancers; American Indian and Alaska Native women are more likely than white women to have late-stage breast and cervical cancers, which are more difficult to treat than cancer detected earlier.
Poverty affects cancer screening rates and is often associated with a high-risk lifestyle. Poverty rates are similar among African-Americans (28%), Hispanics (25%), and American Indians and Alaska Natives (26%), but these rates are double those of whites (11%) and Asians (13%). People with low incomes are less likely to get cancer screening tests, and therefore cancer is often found at a later stage. People who live in poverty are also more likely to make choices that place them at higher risk for cancer, such as eating unhealthy food, having a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking cigarettes.
In addition to these problems, minorities and the poor face many other obstacles:
- Lack of healthcare insurance
- No regular healthcare provider
- Poor access to prevention, detection, and high-quality treatment
- Lack of transportation to doctors and healthcare facilities
- Perception of prohibitive costs of care
To date, five interventional strategies have been found to work in overcoming some of these obstacles:
- Reducing structural barriers by offering flexible clinic hours, mobile screening facilities, transportation, administrative services, and on-site language translation
- Providing reminders through e-mails, postcards, letters, and phone messages
- Making use of small media for education through videos and printed materials such as brochures and newsletters
- Offering one-on-one education by phone or in person through healthcare professionals, lay health advisors, and volunteers
- Providing group education, for example, to church and senior groups
Much remains to do to reach the critical mass it will take to overcome these barriers and the unique challenges facing minorities who have cancer.
US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health ― http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/
American Cancer Society ― http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/features/minority-cancer-awareness-what-everyone-should-know
Patient Advocate Foundation ― http://www.patientadvocate.org/resources.php
Sisters Network ― http://www.sistersnetworkinc.org/
Native American Cancer Research Corporation ― http://www.natamcancer.org/
Asian and Pacific Islander National Cancer Survivors Network ― http://www.apiahf.org/programs/chronic-diseases/api-national-cancer-survivors-network
Latinas Contra Cancer ― http://latinascontracancer.org/
About the Connexion Healthcare Oncology Center of Excellence
Connexion Healthcare is a full-service global provider of strategic medical and scientific communications with decades of experience providing exceptional service to the pharmaceutical industry. We provide services through 2 Centers of Excellence—Oncology and Rare Disease—and possess core expertise in these therapeutic areas and their marketplaces.
Connexion Healthcare’s Oncology Center of Excellence offers executive talent with decades of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Our medical directors have conducted oncology research at leading institutions and major pharmaceutical companies. Our account leads have years of project execution expertise, and our medical editors are versed in the language of oncology. Our design leads are tops in their fields and ensure that your objectives are met effectively and even surpassed in an industry-eloquent and compliant manner. Our team works with you to conceive a strategy and execute communications through your product’s lifespan – from drug discovery through market launch and beyond. With particular expertise in phase 2 through postlaunch, we will engage with you wherever you are in development and whenever you need us.
For further information regarding the Oncology Center of Excellence at Connexion Healthcare and how we can develop oncology communications to differentiate therapies by their unique attributes, contact:
R. Steven Lang
Senior Vice President, Oncology
Val Sudakin, PhD
Senior Vice President, Head of Scientific Services