The first step in reducing cancer health disparities is research that can detect and analyze the problem. UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center has developed programs to address identified disparities, whether based on gender, ethnicity, age or socio-economic status.

Among our projects and programs:

Increasing mammography rates among Native American women

The Mother’s Wisdom Breast Health Program was developed by Native American women to increase the rates of mammography screening among American Indian/Alaska Native women who have disproportionately poor screening rates and high death rates of breast cancer. The Program is based on community-based research by Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater and tribal partners that found cultural beliefs are key barriers to breast cancer screening. The innovative, multi-media Mother’s Wisdom Breast Health Program has been shown to significantly increase mammography screening rates among non-compliant American Indian/Alaska Native women in urban and rural California.

Related Publications:
A Value-Based Approach to Increase Breast Cancer Screening and Health-Directed Behaviors among American Indian Women

Native Voices to increase colorectal cancer awareness and screening among Native Americans

American Indian/Alaska Native adults have the poorest colorectal cancer screening rates in the country, a high incidence of colorectal cancer and a high mortality rate from the disease. In response, UC Davis community-based researcher, Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, and partnering tribal health clinics have launched the Native Voices Program to increases colorectal cancer awareness and screening among Native Americans through talking circles and community peer guides.

Outcomes for adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer unchanged for years

Adolescents and young adults (AYAs), ages 15-39, have some of the poorest cancer outcomes of any age group. The Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Advisory Board was developed to plan, deliver and evaluate cancer prevention, patient support and outreach to this often-neglected age group. The board plans and hosts an annual day-long symposium with expert speakers on the needs of AYAs such as communicating a cancer diagnosis to peers, dealing with physical changes, maintaining relationships, fertility/reproductive issues and employment/legal issues.

Earlier colon cancer screening for Latinos

Anthony Jerant, associate professor of family and community medicine at UC Davis, recognizes that Latinos in the United States are more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer at advanced stages than other groups because they are less likely to get screened early, when cures are more likely. With a grant from the National Cancer Institute, he developed an interactive multimedia computer software program to educate Latino patients about colon cancer risk and to boost colon cancer screening rates and improve survival.

Related Publications:
Sociopsychological tailoring to address colorectal cancer screening disparities: a randomized controlled trial

The effects of two health information texts on patient recognition memory: a randomized controlled trial

Effects of tailored knowledge enhancement on colorectal cancer screening preference across ethnic and language groups

The LGBTQI community’s disproportionate cancer burden

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI) people have a unique “cluster of risk factors” that can lead to greater incidence and later stage diagnosis. Health disparities in the LGBTQI community are caused by multiple factors and the UC Davis LGBTQI Cancer Health Task Force is committed to identifying the determinants such as social/economic factors, lifestyles/behaviors, poor cancer screening rates and lack of cancer knowledge, and developing interventions to reduce those cancer health disparities. A state-wide survey of the LGBTQI population is guiding the development, implementation and evaluation of smart phone and tablet applications to address the poor cancer screening rates and lack of cancer knowledge.

Thousand Asian-American Study (TAAS)

In 2014, more than 1,000 Asian-Americans in Sacramento were screened for hepatitis B, thanks to a federal grant to UC Davis Health System intended to reduce the burden of liver cancer in Asian-Americans. Asian-Americans represent at least half of the people in the United States infected with hepatitis B, and have the highest incidence of liver cancer, according to the U.S. Public Health Service. The grant, entitled the Thousand Asian-American Study (TAAS), is one of nine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aimed at screening foreign-born individuals from areas where hepatitis B is endemic (the majority of Asia and parts of Africa) and providing counseling and treatment referrals to those who test positive. Patients who test negative for hepatitis B are encouraged to get vaccinated.

Increasing smoker cessation rates among Chinese-Americans

Chinese men smoke at higher rates than the general population, putting people who live with these smokers at higher risk for developing smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society and in partnership with health centers and clinics in San Francisco’s Chinatown, researcher Elisa Tong is testing an educational intervention that pairs smokers and non-smokers to help non-smokers learn about a smoking cessation hotline. Through the “Creating Smoke-free Living Together” project, the researchers hope to increase cessation rates and further reduce the risk of cancer for both smokers and non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.

Enrolling Medi-Cal Members in smoking cessation programs

In partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, the University of California Medicaid Research Institute, UCSF, the California Department of Public Health, California Diabetes Program, California Smokers’ Helpline and the California Tobacco Control Program, UC Davis helps administer a program that pays Medi-Cal beneficiaries $20 as an incentive to call the smokers’ helpline and start a free “stop smoking plan.”

Creation of a UC Tobacco Cessation Network

Elisa Tong spearheaded this fellowship project with a grant from the University of California Office of the President’s Center for Health Quality and Innovation. The program’s goal is to help reduce smoking among patients by addressing tobacco cessation during clinical encounters using the electronic medical record as well as outreach to providers and nursing staff.

Peer educator outreach intervention for young smokers

City college students, who are more likely to have low socioeconomic status, smoke at higher rates than other college students. The UC Office of the President has funded a pilot program to test different methods of peer outreach that can help community college students in Sacramento quit tobacco use.

Training the next generation of cancer researchers

The Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program addresses the pressing need for a diverse cancer research community that reflects the nation’s ethnic heterogeneity, and is sensitive to the significant disparities in cancer health across diverse populations. The program draws on resources and expertise of the cancer center and UC Davis College of Biological Sciences. The program covers two years of mentoring and cancer research experiences for four cohorts of four diverse undergraduate students per year. In the second academic year, students continue with nine months of research, prepare their application to professional schools and/or prepare a diversity supplement to fund a post-baccalaureate research year prior to entering graduate/professional school.

Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (AANCART)

Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (AANCART) is a community-based participatory education, training and research program aimed at reducing cancer health disparities among Asian-Americans.