October 27, 2009

Dr. Cheryl Willman, Director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center, Speaks at President Obama’s Cancer Panel


The University of New Mexico Cancer Center’s Director and CEO Dr. Cheryl Willman has been asked to participate in the President’s Cancer Panel Meeting on America’s Demographic and Cultural Transformation: Implications for the Cancer Enterprise. The meeting will take place in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009.

“The UNM Cancer Center is situated in a location of rich multicultural and multiethnic diversity, but has some of the worst cancer health disparities in the nation,” Willman said. “We are home to the nation’s highest percentage of Hispanics and the second highest percentage of Native Americans. Together, these groups comprise more than half of the state’s population. The UNM Cancer Center is uniquely situated to address this growing challenge, and I look forward to presenting our findings to the President’s Cancer Panel.”

The President’s Cancer Panel is made up of three members who are appointed by President Obama for three-year terms to oversee the National Cancer Program. The Panel meets at least four times every year, and hears reports from some of the nation’s leading cancer experts to assess progress and developments in cancer research and care. In addition to Willman, the Panel will hear reports from directors of other top cancer institutions, including Yale University, University of California, University of Colorado and University of Massachusetts.

Willman will be speaking about New Mexico’s extensive cancer disparities and how the UNM Cancer Center is leading the national effort to overcome barriers to care, such as language, cultural differences, socioeconomics and geography. As the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, the UNM Cancer Center is working to provide every New Mexican with access to outstanding care by building a statewide network of cancer clinics, located in both urban and rural areas of the state, which are all connected to the central hub in Albuquerque.

Furthermore, the UNM Cancer Center has a number of innovative outreach programs, including Cancer 101, a hands-on cancer education program designed to provide basic information about cancer, prevention, screening and treatment tailored specifically to New Mexico’s Native American and Hispanic populations. Educators travel to various medically underserved areas of the state with lifesaving cancer prevention and screening information.

Last fall, the UNM Cancer Center partnered with the Mexican Consulate and the local not-for-profit Concilio CDS, Inc., to launch Ventanilla de Salud, a health education and referral service for New Mexico’s Hispanics. The program is based at the Mexican Consulate, and provides customers with cancer education and referral services while they await consular services. Since its inception less than a year ago, Ventanilla de Salud has served more than 3,000 people and established a second location in Santa Fe, with plans to expand to Espanola and other communities in the near future.

“I look forward to sharing the contributions the UNM Cancer Center has made to the nation’s body of cancer knowledge,” Willman said. “Unfortunately, New Mexico is no stranger to cancer health disparities, and our Center has made great strides to improve education and outcomes for people in medically underserved areas. I am so pleased to represent such an outstanding organization.”

The UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of the State of New Mexico, and one of only 65 National Cancer Institute designated cancer centers in the nation. It is home to 85 board-certified oncology physicians representing every cancer specialty and more than 120 research scientists hailing from such prestigious institutions as M.D. Anderson, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.

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