American Cancer Society Addresses Access To Cancer Care

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Minority Cancer Awareness

As the nation observes National Minority Cancer Awareness Week (April 15-21, 2007), the American Cancer Society is raising awareness about the critical need for better access to quality cancer information, prevention, screening and treatment within the minority community.

As part of this effort, the Society will mark the week-long initiative with a cancer disparities research conference featuring the Rev. Jesse Jackson, president and founder, RainbowPUSH Coalition, as keynote speaker. The focus of the conference, to be held in New Orleans April 18-20, is to lay the groundwork for progress in reducing and eliminating disparities in access to health care faced by minorities in the United States.

"Research continues to show that ethnic minorities, as well as other medically underserved groups, have higher rates of cancer, are less likely to be diagnosed early or receive optimal treatment, and have lower survival rates," said Durado Brooks, MD, MPH, director of prostate and colorectal cancer for the American Cancer Society. "Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons - including access to quality health care - these population groups have not benefited equally from advances in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment."

Lack of adequate health insurance, language and cultural barriers, racial bias and stereotyping are just a few of the many hurdles ethnic minorities face. For example, African Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic population, and cancer has been the number one killer of Asian-American women since 1980.

In additional efforts to foster and grow relationships with minority and medically underserved communities, the American Cancer Society already offers a host of programs and services such as:

-- Information - Through the Society's toll-free National Cancer Information Center, callers who speak English, Spanish and other languages can obtain information about cancer prevention, early detection and treatment, and can be linked with community resources. The Society's Web site contains Spanish content and Asian language materials.

-- Let's Talk About It(R) - Educates African American men about prostate health.

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-- Asian Tell A Friend(R) - Tell A Friend breast cancer program with a tailored component for Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Chinese women.

-- Aconseje a su Amiga(R) - Encourages Hispanic/Latina women to get a mammogram and a Pap test.

-- Circle of Life(SM) - Breast health program for American Indian women

-- Look Good...Feel Better(R) - Includes cosmetic offerings for dark- skinned women and is available in Spanish (Luzca Bien ... Sientase Mejor).

-- Body & Soul - Designed as a nutritional program for African American churches in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute.

-- Relevo por La Vida - Works to place Relay For Life events in Hispanic/Latino markets.

-- Hope Lodge(R) - Provides free, temporary housing for cancer patients who are undergoing treatment and their families.

In further support of the Society's goal to help reduce disparities, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network(SM) (ACS CAN), the Society's sister advocacy organization, is working with Congress to enact legislation that will help increase access to quality cancer screenings and treatments for ethnic minorities and the medically underserved. Increasing funding for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and establishing a federal colorectal cancer prevention, early detection and treatment program are high priorities for ACS CAN. Other efforts include working with Congress to secure funding for the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and to provide resources needed to implement the Patient Navigator, Outreach and Chronic Disease Program passed in 2005, which will also improve access to quality care and health outcomes.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.

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