Building on past successes, the National Cancer Institute recently
launched a Community Networks Program with $95 million in grants
designed to reduce cancer disparities through community-based participatory
education, research and training among racial and ethnic minorities
and underserved populations. The goal is to significantly improve
access to, and utilization of, beneficial cancer interventions
in those populations. Some 25 grantee institutions will be part
of the CNP, which is being administered by the Center to Reduce
Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD).
Dr. Mark Clanton, NCI deputy director for cancer care delivery
systems, said, "The NCI has made a strong commitment to cancer
care delivery for health disparities reduction. Programs such as
the CNP are important to helping us ensure that all communities
benefit from the strides we are making in improving quality and
access to cancer care for all Americans."
The goal of establishing CNP's trustworthiness and long-term commitment
to the communities is based on the perception, noted by CRCHD director
Dr. Harold Freeman as well as communities themselves, "that all
too often when community health research and outreach projects
end, there is no lasting impact or contribution to the health of
the participating communities."
The CNP is a natural progression of NCI's community health activities
for minority and underserved populations. In the 1990s, efforts
focused primarily on cancer awareness. In 2000-2004, NCI's Special
Populations Networks included cancer awareness, research and training
activities with an eye toward developing culturally appropriate
education materials, reported Dr. Kenneth Chu, chief of the Disparities
Research Branch of the CRCHD.
"We are starting the CNP on the premise that knowing is not enough," Chu
said. "We need to reduce cancer disparities in the community by
getting people to act — to engage in prevention measures and get
early detection tests."
CNP projects include eight in African American communities, four
for Hispanics and Latinos, four for American Indians and Alaska
Natives, three for Pacific Islanders, two for Asians and four in
Throughout the 5-year life of the CNP, NCI will continually evaluate
grantees' strategies and activities to help them address the cancer
health spectrum, stretching from cancer prevention and early detection
tests with outreach to the community through patient navigation
(assisting patients with resolving their abnormal screening test
results through diagnosis and on to appropriate treatment) to rehabilitation
(cancer survivorship programs including support groups). One emphasis
of the survivorship component is designed to counter attitudes
of "fatalism" toward cancer in some minority groups.
The grantees are charged with developing activities to span this
continuum. The CNPs will be developing active partnerships with
community groups, screening clinics and hospitals in their communities.
All CNP community projects will also develop collaborations with
NCI's Cancer Information Service, a national information and education
network. In addition, each project will integrate activities with
at least three other NCI programs such as those dealing with cancer
disparities, the development of minority researchers, intramural
clinical trials, epidemiology studies and treatment clinical trials.
Program managers meet weekly to monitor and evaluate grantees' activities.
In addition, a CNP Summit will be held every year in Washington,
D.C., so that principal investigators and staff can have a forum
in which to share information on successful strategies and common
problems. At this year's summit, July 18-20, all NCI division directors
were invited to present updates on their cancer health disparities
activities and identify opportunities for collaboration.