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Project Connects Researchers, Latino Communities to Prevent Cancer

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By Rakhee Sharma, MD Anderson Staff Writer

According to the 2009 U.S. Census, Texas is home to 9.1 million Latinos -- a relatively young and rapidly growing population.

To reduce cancer-related health disparities among Texas Latinos during this influx, a $4 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute will create a Texas regional Community Networks Program Center (CNPC), called Latinos Contra El Cancer.

"The number of Latino cancer cases is projected to increase dramatically in the next several decades. The center's efforts are designed to build capacity in the Latino community throughout the state to deliver evidence-based cancer prevention and control policies and interventions," says David Wetter, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Disparities
Research at MD Anderson
.

The center is a joint project of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which will combine innovative research, a multi-faceted training program and extensive community outreach to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Latinos. 

Research focus on smoking, diet and activity

The goal of the research program's  intervention study is to develop and evaluate innovative approaches to reduce cancer risk related to the three leading behavioral risk factors for cancer: smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity. It will focus on participants in Mano a Mano, which is a long-term health study of people of Mexican origin living in Harris County. The study collects information on participants and their families, including date, place of birth and health status, and updates the information regularly for up to 10 years.

Training: Strengthening the cadre

The goal of the project's mentored training program is to prepare new and early stage investigators to conduct cancer disparities research in Latino communities. An emphasis is on building skills and capacity to conduct community-based participatory research.

Outreach: Understanding and engaging community partners

The goal of the project's outreach program is to increase the use of evidence-based cancer control interventions in communities by building on existing community partnerships, infrastructure and programs.

Maria Fernandez, Ph.D., associate professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Public Health, and principal investigator on the outreach core, says, "There is a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience and expertise in the community that needs to be tapped into if we're going to have a real impact."

For more details on the CNPC, see the news release.  


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