Cancer affects different people differently. Researchers and clinicians in UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Population Sciences and Health Disparities Program are dedicated to understanding why, and are working in different ways to eliminate disparities and improve outcomes for everyone.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines “cancer health disparities” as:
“…adverse differences in cancer incidence (new cases), cancer prevalence (all existing cases), cancer death (mortality), cancer survivorship, and burden of cancer or related health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States.”
These population groups may be characterized by age, disability, education, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, income, or race.
David Gandara, associate director of clinical research and director of Thoracic Oncology, is working to understand why rates of lung cancer are increasing among younger women who have never smoked, but are declining among men. He also has done clinical trials demonstrating that certain chemotherapy regimens that proved effective against small-cell lung cancer in Japan produced different results in different populations in the United States. This work suggests inherent genetic differences between the populations.
Latinas have the highest cervical cancer rates in the United States because of disparities in cervical cancer screening. Lydia Howell, professor and interim chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, found that when women participate in a program providing consistent cervical cancer screening resources, incidence rates among Latinas are no different than among other groups.
Minorities make up an increasing percentage of the U.S. population, yet Asians, Hispanics and African-Americans continue to be under-represented in cancer clinical trials. A new research program entitled EMPaCT (Enabling Minority Participation in Clinical Trials) unites disparities experts from five NCI-designated cancer centers around the country to find models to increase minority recruitment into trials.
Be Smart With Body Art is a multi-media campaign targeting teens and young adults with messages about the risk of exposure to hepatitis C from tattoos and body piercing. The campaign, which includes “5 questions to ask before getting a tattoo or piercing,” was developed by researchers Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater at UC Davis and Heather Diaz at Sacramento State University.
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is now home to the National Center for Reducing Asian American Cancer Health Disparities, the only such national center for Asian-Americans designated by the National Cancer Institute’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. Built upon more than a decade of accomplishments by the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness Research and Training (AANCART), the center functions as a consortium of organizations to address populations disproportionately affected by the disease throughout the nation.