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UCLA teams with Drew to provide cancer care

rvical cancers. Latinos also are more likely to be overweight and less likely to exercise than whites -- factors associated with an increased cancer risk. They're also much more likely to smoke, the report found.

Some of these disparities can be explained by late diagnosis, lifestyle factors and access to health care, while others are attributed to language and cultural barriers that thwart proven ways to detect and prevent cancer when it is most treatable. For example, cervical cancer has been preventable since the introduction of the Pap smear in 1941. However, a recent study of 312,858 low-income women found that only 60 percent had ever had a Pap smear. According to the American Cancer Society, Latino women are the least likely of racial and ethnic groups to use screening tests like the Pap smear or mammography.

In an effort to address these disparities, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health recommended redesigning the clinical trials system to improve recruitment of minorities and strengthening training in minority colleges and universities. The Drew/UCLA partnership does both, Gasson said.

Unlike many Latino women she knows, Maria Gonzales, 52, of Bellflower, did get annual mammograms. And in February 2000, an abnormality showed up. In March 2000, Gonzales was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated at Drew. She now volunteers there, driving patients to appointments, visiting them in the hospital and even bringing them wigs when treatments result in hair loss.

Gonzales said she's excited about the new partnership program and the experimental treatments that will be available for patients there.

"There are a lot of Spanish-speaking people here that really need help," said Gonzales, who was treated with chemotherapy and radiation and remains cancer-free today. "They need to know all that is available for them and this will give them even more choices."

Barbara Hammett, a South Central
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
25-Nov-2003


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