National Minority Cancer Awareness Week is April 13-19.
In an effort to reduce cancer health disparities among Asian-Americans, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center now offers individual, in-language education and culturally sensitive materials for every Asian-American cancer patient.
Debuting during the National Minority Cancer Awareness Week April 13-19, the new brochures and five-minute videos are designed to inform Asian-Americans about the importance of engaging in cancer research. The educational efforts also are part of the Asian-American Cancer Education Study (AACES), a UC Davis program aimed at increasing awareness of clinical trials and the importance of donation of biospecimens such as blood, saliva or tissue.
Asian-Americans’ involvement in clinical trials and biospecimen donation is crucial because Asian-Americans are consistently underrepresented in cancer research. Studies show that language barriers, mistrust of the medical system and cultural differences often create misunderstandings about the nature and purpose of clinical trials and biospecimen donation, discouraging participation.
“Asian-Americans are the only racial group for whom cancer is the leading cause of death, so we are highly motivated to increase their involvement,” said professor Moon Chen, the cancer center’s associate director for cancer control.
UC Davis researchers have found that less than five percent of all clinical trials participants in the U.S. include minorities, less than two percent of clinical cancer research studies focus on non-white ethnic or racial groups, and biospecimen collection among diverse populations lags far behind that of non-Hispanic whites.
The Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness and Training (AANCART), headquartered at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, developed the brochures and DVDs based on extensive research using ethnically specific community outreach programs in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco. Through community focus groups and surveys conducted in Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Hmong, AANCART sought to understand existing cultural barriers and misconceptions about participation in cancer research. They found many causes of confusion, from pervasive cultural beliefs to language problems such as inaccurate translation of certain terms and phrases.