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Overview & History

Cancer Health Disparities - The Problem and Who's At Risk

Cancer affects people of all races and ethnicities in the U.S. Today, one in four deaths in the U.S. is attributable to cancer, and one in three Americans will eventually develop some form of cancer. Each day, 3,800 people in America are diagnosed with cancer and another 1,500 die from cancer.

The burden of cancer, however, is greater for the poor, ethnic minorities, rural populations and the underserved compared to the general population. Ethnic minorities are diagnosed with cancer and die from cancer more often than the U.S. white population. Moreover, many racial and ethnic minorities have poorer survival rates for cancer than whites.

In recent years, there have been significant advances in science and in understanding and treatment of cancer. Yet, there are many people in this country who do not sufficiently benefit from these research advances. This "disconnect" or gap between what we know and what we deliver is a critical determinant in health disparities - and in who's at risk.

View the Timeline.

Two current CRCHD initiatives:

The Community Networks Program (CNP)

The Community Networks Program (CNP) expands upon previous NCI-funded community research to reduce cancer disparities through community-based participatory cancer education, training and research among racial and ethnic minorities, and underserved populations. Awarded to 25 institutions, the CNP aims to increase access to and use of beneficial cancer interventions, such as proven approaches for quitting smoking, increasing healthy eating and physical activity, and early detection and treatment of breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancers.

The Patient Navigation Research Program (PNRP)

The Patient Navigation Research Program represents a new approach to providing individualized assistance to patients, survivors and their families. The program places patients in contact with trained health care workers - or "navigators" - who assist those in need of cancer care services. The overall goal of this program is to develop innovative patient navigator interventions designed to decrease the time between a cancer-related abnormal finding, definitive diagnosis, and delivery of quality standard cancer care services.

Looking Towards the Future

CRCHD's future plans focus on building partnerships to sponsor new disparities research that brings together advances in biomedicine, clinical research, and population-based sciences. Research that enhances access among underrepresented and underserved populations to proven interventions in prevention, early detection, treatment, follow-up, survival and understanding the biological differences in cancer will also be important. At the same time, supporting community-based, trans-disciplinary research will continue to be a hallmark to the work of CRCHD. Finally, emphasis will be placed on the training of new diverse investigators, and developing creative and culturally appropriate community and clinical models that can be widely disseminated.

CRCHD's future plans also include expanding investigator-initiated research in cancer health disparities. Areas of interest include community-based, as well as basic science and clinical, investigator-initiated research among populations experiencing cancer health disparities.

Updated: 08/24/09