Health

Push to end the suffering and cancer caused deaths by 2015

Editor’s Note: This is a summary of the Intercultural Cancer Council’s (ICC) Educational Forum entitled: Elimination of Health Disparities and Implementing Strategic Alliances, held at the Omni Shoreham in Washington DC February 22-24, 2003.
Editor’s Note: This is a summary of the Intercultural Cancer Council’s (ICC) Educational Forum entitled: Elimination of Health Disparities and Implementing Strategic Alliances, held at the Omni Shoreham in Washington DC February 22-24, 2003.

Carlos Gallego, Diversity Specialist Carver County, is a Hispanic Caucus member of the ICC.

This three-day forum was attended by 200 of the top medical, research and community cancer authorities from across the United States. The conference reemphasized the tragic degree of difference that continues to exist in the type of treatment, time of treatment and outcomes between White Americans and communities of color. This group gathered to identify how to work together and leverage resources in order to tackle this monumental problem.

Rear Admiral Nathnan Stinson, Director of the Office of Minority Health, Department of Health and Human Services, reminded us we should not be apologetic for our diversity and that it is something to be celebrated as the InterCultural Cancer Council always does. He noted that if his Department budget was a nation they would the ninth largest in the world. He asked, “How in the midst of such wealth can there be so much pain?”

Stinson further challenged the audience to help focus the Department’s resources to effectively address health disparities. He underscored the need to expand mentor programs to better reach talented young minority minds. The opportunities need to be provided at all levels such as high school, college and graduate schools, he said. He encouraged us to share our research our findings with the communities.

In light of the conversation, Armin Wienberg, PhD, co-founder of the InterCultural Cancer Council, told us that we need to change the way things are done and that our traditional PhD programs and not best preparing our students to serve their communities. I asked him what he saw as the dream and the challenge of the ICC, he replied that it was his dream that other organizations make the ICC’S Mission their mission so that the ICC could meet its mission and no longer need to continue to exist. He felt that the greatest challenge was to make sure that people across the nation have adequate resources.

The room filled with applause when the distinguished Andrew C. von Eschenbach MD, Director of the National Cancer Institute moved up the elimination of cancer’s suffering and death target year from 2020 to 2015. This is an amazing feat especially in light of the incredible disparities that continue to dog the field of cancer treatment and research. Von Eschenbach noted that we need to look interaction between the person and the cancer cell. He said Cancer is a scientific, clinical and disparity problem. While there has been some advancement on our battle with Cancer, we continue to face significant differences between white and minority communities. He reiterated that we must gain a better understanding of the cultural and environmental factors.

This was an issue that echoed throughout the conference. Many Federal agencies continue to have mainly data on Black and White and very little on the other ethnic groups. Yet although there is more data for the African American community, the barriers have not diminished and in many types of Cancer African Americans are the most likely to die. According to the InterCultural Cancer Council, 64,000 African Americans die from Cancer each year. Lung Cancer is the leading cause of Cancer death among African Americans with over 16,000 expected to die in 2003. Also African American women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are less likely than White women to Survive five years after diagnosis, the rate of African American women is 71 percent compared to 87 percent among Whites. Finally, among African American children 1- 14-years-old, cancer ranks as the third leading cause of death surpassed on

April 28, 2003
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