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Groups support minority cancer patients

Published On: Sep 16 2011 04:01:15 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 28 2013 09:57:29 AM CDT
young breast cancer survivor

istock/ftwitty

Sandra Sheridan, Contributing writer

All women deserve the same care and hope for recovery from disease, and now minorities with breast cancer have reliable support. But racial and ethnic minorities have endured in health care and prolonged suffering from cancer. Delayed diagnosis and inappropriate care, poverty, a lack of insurance and inadequate cancer treatment all have led to higher cancer rates and lower survival rates.

Fortunately, many programs and services now exist to support minorities in need of breast cancer information, screening and treatment.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed programs to improve the health of minority women. As the

"Racial and ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately from diseases ... and are less likely to receive routine medical services," said Dr. Garth N. Graham, deputy assistant secretary for minority health.

One is the Office of Minority Health Resource Center, which offers support in English or Spanish at 800-444-6472. The OMH programs serve American Indians and Alaska natives, Asian Americans, black people, Hispanics, native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders.

Within the National Center for Infectious Diseases, several programs seek to level the playing field for health care among racial and ethnic minorities.

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program makes early testing available to low-income women without health insurance. Since 1991, nonprofits and local health clinics have partnered with NBCCEDP to provide free or low-cost screening services to more than 7.8 million women. The Department of Health in each state has information about the nearest programs, and more information is available online.

The American Cancer Society also initiates programs designed to be culturally appropriate, respectful and supportive of different communities' values.

By 2015, the ACS aims for measurable improvement in cancer patients' quality of life and reduction of cancer death rates by 50 percent.

"The ACS programs now in place are making a difference, and we will continue to do what is necessary until these disparities are eliminated," said Eve Nagler, director of special populations in the cancer control department.

Cancer information specialists at the ACS can answer questions in several languages 800-ACS-2345.

The best place to begin looking for local resources is with your state and local governments. Through national projects and local partners, information and support services are more widely available than ever before.

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