Preparedness Key When Talking About Cancer

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How do you discuss a topic that most people hope they never have to think about, and that is about as appealing as a fuzzy brown Chinese gooseberry or a bug-eyed Patagonian toothfish? Like the wildly successful re-marketing of the popular Kiwi fruit (formerly Chinese gooseberry) and the Chilean sea bass (formerly Patagonian toothfish), the key to talking about cancer clinical trials is framing the issue in ways that are relevant and meaningful to the audience.  
gooseberry_fish.jpgIn Texas, 70% of cancer patients are white, even though the white population makes up only 48% of the population of Texas. Hispanics make up 37% of the population, but only 17% of new cancer cases. This surprising statistic is largely due to the fact that while minorities experience higher cancer rates in general, there are fewer minorities currently diagnosed with cancer. Minorities as a group -- in particular Hispanics -- are younger than the white population, and age is a significant risk factor for cancer. The older you are, the more your risk for cancer increases. In Texas, 70% of people older than 70 are white.
To reach healthier, younger people -- in particular Asians and Latinos -- we talk about cancer preparedness as a tool to maintain and protect their health and that of their families.

Residents of the Texas Gulf Coast are very familiar with the concept of hurricane preparedness. Every hurricane season, meteorologists are the most visible people on TV, as they share the latest news about potential hurricanes forming, and communicate messages of awareness, preparation and appropriate action. The annual rituals of stocking batteries and canned foods, filling the tub with water and the tank with gas become matter-of-fact behaviors, and not reasons for fear or distress. Certainly we hope that the hurricane does not head our way, but if it does, we will know what to do and how to do it.

Cancer preparedness takes the same approach. Health education specialists in the Minority & Women Clinical Trials Recruitment Program promote cancer awareness, prevention and screening with Hispanic and Asian audiences. They provide information about treatment options, including clinical trials, as resources that audiences can use to help themselves, their parents and elders decide the most appropriate course of action, for optimal survival and outcome, should the hurricane of cancer enter their lives. 

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