The National Cancer Institute and the National Center on Minority
Health and Health Dispari-ties partnered to hold a first-of-its-kind "Cancer
Health Disparities Summit 2006" to engage broader participation
within extramurally funded cancer health disparity researchers.
The July 17-19 meeting included 700 cancer researchers, health
professionals and community health educators involved nationwide
in disparities research, training, education and outreach programs;
they addressed the burden of cancer in underserved populations
and communities. The programs under discussion represented some
of the most effective and promising ones, including the Community
Networks Program, the Patient Navigation Research Program, Centers
for Population Health and Health Disparities, among others.
|Lee Moultrie II (r), a community outreach
coordinator with the University of South Carolina Community
Network, addresses the summit.
The goal was to facilitate networking, disseminate knowledge about
the variety of programs currently under way, strengthen collaborations
and forge new relationships, enable participants to share strategies
and provide solutions. NCI leadership met with attendees to address
concerns over what impact recent budget cuts and reallocations
may have on achieving goals during periods of fiscal constraint.
There were more than 40 speakers on the program, including former
HHS secretary Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, now of Morehouse School of
Medicine; Dr. John Niederhuber, acting NCI director; Dr. Mark Clanton,
NCI deputy director; Dr. John Ruffin, NCMHD director; and Dr. Sanya
Springfield, acting director of NCI's Center to Reduce Cancer Health
"We are rapidly transitioning into a new era of highly personalized
medicine in which our future success in eliminating the burden
of cancer will depend significantly upon our ability to rapidly
and seamlessly bring the best of our scientific discovery to patients
in the communities where they live," said Niederhuber. "Disparities
are not just about socio-economics or education. Age, given our
rapidly aging population, constitutes, in my mind, a huge disparities
Ruffin told attendees: "The partnership (between NCI and NCMHD)
represented a true spirit of collaboration among NIH institutes
and centers and among their grantees. The summit set the foundation
for similar forums that will be emerging across the NIH in the
coming months, such as the first in a series of three trans-NIH
health disparities research forums being coordinated by the NCMHD."
|Dr. Sanya Springfield, acting director of
the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, speaks
at the summit.
He added, "The NIH is doing some impressive work in health disparities
research at the academic and community levels and it's time that
we start showcasing the progress we are making. We also have to
continue working together to strengthen our partnership base and
leverage our resources to sustain the good models that exist."
NCI's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, headed by Springfield, "continues
to be a bright beacon of hope for underserved populations who carry
a heavy cancer burden," Clanton said.
"Addressing cancer disparities is woven tightly into the fabric
of our agenda here at NCI," he continued. "Three years ago, NCI
renewed its commitment to fighting cancer disparities when we set
out on an ambitious course to eliminate suffering and death due
to cancer. The course we charted was based on a handful of key
strategic priorities that guide us — from finding ways to better
harness advanced technologies for the purpose of fighting cancer
to improving our clinical trials system. Reducing cancer disparities
is one of our core priorities," he added.
Summit participants included Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans,
Native Americans, African Americans, Alaska Natives and Pacific
Islanders and the rural poor.
Kenton J. Laffoon, Sr., of the Mohave tribe from the Colorado
River Indian Reservation, representing the Inter Tribal Council
of Arizona, Inc., said there are many issues still affecting the
American Indian. "American Indians are being lost in the system
as our research projects are being underfunded," he charged. "Transportation
to major medical centers is a key problem that remains to be solved
as well as cancer treatment follow-up once a Native American patient
"Without a patient navigator research program to guide Native
Americans through the myriad tests and treatments, these patients
are all too inclined to discontinue treatment when the cancer is
still treatable." Cancer is the second leading cause of death in
the Native American population.
"I believe this summit will be a historic one as we look back
on the strides we have made in cancer disparities. It is also a
time to look ahead to the promise of progress to come with our
continued collaborations," concluded Clanton.
to top of page