Cancer affects everyone, but it doesn’t affect everyone equally. For example, Hispanic and African American women are more frequently diagnosed with, and die from, cervical cancer. And Asians and Pacific Islanders are diagnosed with liver cancer more frequently than other racial or ethnic groups. The National Cancer Institute created the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities to document, understand and reduce these differences. This center recently awarded the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center a three-year, $ 750,000 Geographical Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program, or GMaP, grant. The GMaP grant will support research collaboration and training/mentoring programs in Region 3 of its six regions.
GMaP Region 3 includes California, Texas, New Mexico and five other states. “[All] these states have similar kinds of population compositions and similar kinds of cancer health disparities,” says Andrew Sussman, PhD, MCRP. Sussman serves as the principal investigator for the GMaP grant at UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The role of the GMaP is to create a collaborative hub and infrastructure to provide opportunities for researchers and trainees to collaborate,” says Sussman. He and his team are planning annual conferences, quarterly phone meetings, webinars, website portals and other methods for cancer health disparity scientists to work together.
By grouping together states with similar populations, cancer health disparity research can focus on the groups in each region and the specific needs they have. The research may focus on the cancers that affect these groups more, but it may also focus on different approaches to care. For example, a recent study led by Anita Kinney, PhD, RN, found that genetic counseling for breast or ovarian cancer delivered over the phone is as effective as in-person counseling. This discovery could bring genetic counseling within the reach of more women in rural areas. A regional focus may also encourage more people from these groups to take part in clinical trials.
Sussman, Regional Coordinating Director Miria Kano, PhD, and their team will help cancer health disparity scientists work together more easily to conduct research and to train new scientists in the field. As the regional clearinghouse, they will not only connect people with training openings but also help scientists to create training and research programs at their own institutions. “We want to reach out to the entire region to make connections as they’re relevant,” says Sussman.
Andrew Sussman, PhD, MCRP, is a medical anthropologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. He received both of his degrees (Doctorate in Cultural Anthropology; Master’s in Community and Regional Planning) from the University of New Mexico and completed his post-doctoral training here as well. His research focuses on primary health service implementation and patient-provider counseling dynamics with diverse and underserved populations in New Mexico. He is also the Director of RIOS Net, a primary care practice-based research network affiliated with University of New Mexico, Indian Health Service and Federally Qualified Health Center clinical and community partners. Much of his research has focused on cancer prevention and has been conducted in outpatient primary care and community settings throughout New Mexico.
The National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health supported the research reported in this publication under Award Number 3P30CA118100-11S3, Principal Investigator: Sussman, Andrew. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
The Geographical Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program, GMaP, is a national program that links flagship programs of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities into six regional, disparities-focused networks for cancer health disparities research, training, and infrastructure. The program includes 123 institutional members. Region 3 includes institutions in the states of: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of New Mexico and the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center in a 400-mile radius. One of the premier cancer centers nationwide, the UNM CCC has 128 board-certified oncology physicians, forming New Mexico’s largest cancer care team. It treats about 60 percent of adults and virtually all the children in New Mexico diagnosed with cancer — more than 10,000 people— from every county in the state in more than 135,000 clinic visits each year. Through its partnership with the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance, an “exemplary national model for cancer health care delivery,” the UNM CCC offers access to more than 160 clinical trials to New Mexicans in every part of the state. Annual research funding of more than $72 million supports the UNM CCC’s 132 cancer scientists. Working with partners at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, and New Mexico State University, they have developed new diagnostics and drugs for leukemia, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, liver and pancreatic cancer, brain cancer, and melanoma; garnered 33 new patents and 117 patents pending; and launched 13 new biotechnology companies since 2010. Learn more at cancer.unm.edu.
Dorothy Hornbeck, JKPR, 505-340-5929, email@example.com
Michele Sequeira, UNM Cancer Center, 505-925-0486, firstname.lastname@example.org