On July 28 and 29, health care professionals from around the nation will gather in Las Vegas for the 2009 Health Equity Conference: Through the Cancer Lens, hosted by the American Cancer Society. The conference focuses on health disparities as seen through a cancer lens, and developing better outcomes for health equity in cancer care. Visit thecancerlens.org to register or to find out more about the conference.
“This conference is for anyone. If you’re in public health and work with programs to improve health outcomes among the underserved, if you’re a health professional providing patient care, if you’re a leader wanting to create health messages for the public, the media, or policymakers, or if you just want to know more about how cancer affects minorities and what we can do about it, this conference is for you,” said Linda Blount, national vice president of health disparities for ACS.
Cancer affects men and women of every age, race, ethnic background and economic class, but the disease disproportionately affects certain population groups in the U.S.
The good news: Fewer people are dying from cancer and new cancer cases are declining. The bad news: Cancer still affects certain populations more than others – including minorities, non-English speakers, those who live in geographically isolated areas, the poor and the poorly educated, and those without adequate health care coverage.
For example, Native American women have a higher breast cancer mortality rate than white women because they are often diagnosed at late stages of the disease. Hispanic women have twice the mortality rate for cervical cancer than white women. African-Americans have the shortest survival rate of any ethnic group for most cancers. Uninsured patients are 1.5 times more likely to die of their colorectal cancer than privately insured patients. Poor women are diagnosed with late stage breast cancer twice as often as upper income women. A recent study showed that a significant number of Korean-American women are not familiar with the Pap test.
Barriers such as low social economic status, lack of access to care, geographic isolation, treatment bias, and health information written to a white, mainstream audience – and only in English – are all factors that can lead to poor cancer outcomes.
As a nation, we’re making progress in the fight against cancer. But millions of people aren’t benefiting because they don’t have access to cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment options that give them a fighting chance. The time has come for Americans to do something about the inequities in health care.
“We know what to do: Intervene, Advocate, and Communicate,” Blount said. “That’s what this conference is all about. Discussing what can be done to improve health outcomes for minorities. Exposing participants to breakthrough ideas – what’s working out there to help people from different cultures prevent cancer, detect it early and treat it effectively.”
Key note speakers and panel leaders for the conference include doctors, educators and media professionals. An Indian Country Today representative will be presenting during the Communications workshop on how to build strong media partnerships.
According to ACS’s newly released annual cancer statistics report, “Cancer Facts and Figures 2009” overall cancer incidence rates are dropping nationwide, for men and women. However, when comparing people of minorities and/or people of poverty, the gap between whites and other groups has gotten larger. Find more statistics at www.cancer.org.
The conference is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, in partnership with the National Medical Association, Intercultural Cancer Council, and the National Hispanic Medical Association. Registration is still open.
For more information about how the American Cancer Society is saving lives by helping all people stay well and get well by finding cures, and by helping everyone fight back against cancer, call (800) 227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. For information on this article, contact Charlotte Hofer at the American Cancer Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.