M. D. Anderson Observes National Minority Cancer Awareness Week

Style News Wire | 4/17/2008, 4:29 p.m.
M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is encouraging people to learn about the growing disparity in cancer incidence and death rates ...

“The week’s emphasis gives  physicians, nurses, health care professionals and researchers an opportunity to  assess current cancer trends facing minority populations and develop creative  approaches to addressing issues unique to these communities,” said Lovell A.  Jones, Ph.D. , director of the Center for Research on Minority Health  at M. D.

Anderson. In 1986, Jones approached  Senator Lloyd Bentsen and Representative Mervyn Dymally to support a joint  resolution designating the third full week in April as National Minority Cancer  Awareness Week. On April 8, 1987, the U. S. House of Representatives Joint  Resolution 119 approved this recommendation. The resolution, as explained in  the Congressional Record, drew attention to the fact that cancer has a  disproportionately severe impact on minorities and the economically  disadvantaged. “National  Minority Cancer Awareness Week promotes the importance of increased cancer  screening and treatment among segments of the populations at greater risk of  developing the disease,” Jones said. “With a steadily changing demographic and  the lack of significant progress in cancer disparities, the need to address  this issue has become even greater to the well-being of this nation.”

Minority Populations Continue Rapid Growth

According to Jones, minority  populations in the United    States continue to grow at a rapid rate. The  U.S. Census Bureau reported that the nation’s minority population  currently is estimated at 100.7 million, compared to 98.3 million a year ago.  In addition, nonwhites now make up a majority in almost one-third of the  most-populous counties in the country and in nearly one in 10 of all 3,100  counties. Factors that may contribute  to this include:

• Lack of medical insurance coverage or underinsurance

• Barriers to early detection and screening, such as lack of access to nearby facilities

• Language and cultural barriers

• Unequal access to improved cancer treatments

• Discrimination within the health care system

Events Scheduled for 2008

The Center for Research on  Minority Health at M. D. Anderson plans to observe National Minority Cancer  Awareness Week with a symposium luncheon open to the public on Tuesday, April  22 at the J. W. Marriot Hotel in Houston,   Texas. M. D. Anderson continues to  offer programs for minority audiences throughout the year and not just during  this observance week. “Each year, we increase the  number of programs we have for specific minority populations,” says Donaji  Stelzig, MPH, health education specialist in M. D. Anderson’s Public Education  Office  . Over the past two years, Stelzig has partnered with organizations such as  Camaras de Empresarios Latinos de Houston and the Houston Mexican Embassy to  organize cancer education events for the Hispanic community. In the past six  months, these events have reached more than 3,300 Hispanics. “Collaborating  with community organizations to organize programs targeting specific minority  populations helps us to expand our reach and educate audiences about the  importance of cancer prevention and screening practices,” said Stelzig.   For more information on Houston-area programs  for minority audiences and National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, visit www.mdanderson.org/cancerawareness.