Ethnic minorities are diagnosed with cancer at a later stage, have poorer survival and experience more difficult recovery — but City of Hope researchers are determined to change that.
|Physicians and scientists discuss minority inclusion in biomedical research (Photo by Jonathan Lam)|
In recognition of Minority Cancer Awareness Week, City of Hope’s Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education (CCARE) brought together scientists, physicians, health advocates and policymakers at a forum to grapple with inequity issues. The forum — “Can Communities Win the War on Cancer by Partnering with Science?” — was held April 27 in Pasadena, Calif.
“The theme for the forum was prompted by continuing ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes,” said Kimlin Tam Ashing-Giwa, Ph.D., professor of population sciences and founding director of CCARE. “Their benefits from advances in medicine are limited because of lacking advocacy and research inclusion focusing on ethnic minority populations.”
The forum focused on medical and scientific developments in cancer prevention and control, clinical trials, personalized medicine and biospecimen banking, with particular focus on underrepresented and underserved populations. About 70 participants came together to improve awareness and build relationships that will help reduce health inequity.
City of Hope speakers included Lucille Leong, M.D., clinical professor of medical oncology, Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D., director of the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, and Julio Garcia-Aguilar, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Surgery.
Presentations from experts in oncology, genetics and personalized medicine and a community partners panel rounded out the evening’s forum. The community partners panel included Rita Singhal, M.D., M.P.H., of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Office of Women’s Health, Jasmin Ramirez of the American Cancer Society, Lucy Young and Carol Wang of the Herald Cancer Association, Eudora Mitchell of the Witness Project and Esperanza y Vida, Zul Surani of the USC Norris Patient Education and Outreach Center, and cancer survivor Kommah McDowell of the Kommah Seray Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation.
Ashing-Giwa closed the forum by presenting her clinical trials diversity inclusion goal for 2020. Currently, only about 17 percent of clinical trials participants are members of an ethnic minority; she hopes to see that figure climb to 30 percent at the decade’s end.
“The community partners and CCARE will continue to collaborate closely on scientific studies and community based cancer education and screening programs to increase minority participation in research, improve cancer prevention efforts and early detection,” she said. “We are committed to educating and empowering communities, through combining scientific knowledge with community wisdom and action, for a greater voice in cancer prevention and research and to equalize health outcomes for all.”