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Emerging Research Highlights How Race, Ethnicity and Socio-economic Factors Affect Cancer Outcomes


American Association for Cancer Research hosts “The Science of Cancer Health Disparities” Atlanta, November 27-30, 2007

PHILADELPHIA - The latest biological, clinical and social research behind how cancer affects different racial and ethnic groups will be the focus of the first American Association for Cancer Research conference on the topic, entitled “The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved.” The meeting is to be held November 27 to 30 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Racial and ethnic disparities in cancer incidence and mortality are well documented,” said meeting co-chair Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, M.D., professor of medicine and human genetics at the University of Chicago and director of the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Cancer Risk Clinic. “While data suggest that access to quality care is a factor in cancer disparities, other factors also play a major role, including tumor biology, genetics, lifestyle and behavior, screening policies, comorbidities, environmental exposure and risk, quality of and response to therapy, and post-therapeutic surveillance.”

Research presented at the conference will include the science behind how cancer affects populations of different ethnicities, as well as the function and structure of community-based research and cancer awareness programs designed to reach disadvantaged populations.

The conference traces its genesis to a think tank session on research issues related to cancer health disparities in October 2006, sponsored by AACR and the National Cancer Institute Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. The think tank brought together clinical researchers, epidemiologists, molecular biologists, social scientists, geneticists, pathologists, and patient advocates, to discuss the emerging data and advance this new and growing field of research.

“It was evident from the proceedings of the think tank that there were many scientific challenges to address and overcome and that the next step to moving the field forward would be to hold a multidisciplinary conference on the science of cancer health disparities,” said meeting co-chair Timothy Rebbeck, Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine.

The Atlanta conference brings together scientists and other professionals, working in a variety of disciplines, to discuss the latest findings in the field and to stimulate the development of new research in cancer health disparities. Carcinogenesis, biomarkers, epidemiology, prevention, cancer communications, translational research, treatment, health economics and survivorship issues will be highlighted. The meeting is co-sponsored by the NCI Center to Reduce Health Disparities and the Minorities in Cancer Research council of the AACR.

“This conference is the first of its kind in that it will address various topics in basic science, clinical research, population science, behavioral research, and cancer survivorship,” said meeting co-chair John D. Carpten, Ph.D., senior investigator and director in the Integrated Cancer Genomics Division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute. “The meeting will provide a powerful forum to identify risk factors and barriers to the reduction and elimination of cancer health disparities.”

Olopade, Rebbeck and Carpten will host a press briefing to give reporters background on the emerging field of cancer health disparities and an update on the state of the science. Additional highlights of this conference will include breaking news on:

* Ethnic disparities in colorectal cancer death rates have an underlying genetic basis, according to an analysis of 26 studies, involving over 25,000 participants, by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh.

* Differences in lymph node assessment among breast cancer patients who undergo surgery. The practice, which helps to determine whether the cancer has spread and thus informs treatment decisions, is optional, yet certain groups of women are less likely to undergo the procedure, according to researchers at the American Cancer Society.

* Assessing the cancer care needs of recent Hispanic immigrants in Nashville, Tennessee, has become a priority for a coalition of local universities and community groups. Like many communities across America, Nashville has faced a massive wave of immigrants in the last decade, yet not much is known about the healthcare needs of this largely uninsured population, despite their expressed interest in receiving cancer information and participating in clinical trials, researchers at Tennessee State University report.

* Aggressive prostate cancer in African-American men might be exacerbated by the effects of obesity and diabetes on PSA levels, a common prostate cancer screening technique, report researchers from Vanderbilt University.

* Cultural views among Asian ethnic groups might influence treatment recommendations for Asian breast cancer patients, according to researchers from the Northern California Cancer Center.

Capping off AACR’s scientific meeting is a free, public education program entitled “Cancer Answers: A Public Forum on Cancer Health Disparities.” Scientists and cancer advocates will help educate the Atlanta community on cancer health disparities through an interactive dialogue, sharing their research and answering questions about race and cancer, clinical trials, genetics, personalized medicine, survivorship and cancer education. Information on resources for cancer patients and their families, as well as general information on cancer and health disparities will also be available from local advocacy and community education groups.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is recognized as the lead supporter of “The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved” with additional support from Eli Lilly and Amgen.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes nearly 26,000 basic, translational, and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 70 other countries. AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment, and patient care. AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Its most recent publication, CR, is a magazine for cancer survivors, patient advocates, their families, physicians, and scientists. It provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship, and advocacy.

In Atlanta (November 27-30):
(404) 586-6124


 Cancer Research

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