By Miriam Hidalgo
- One in five Latino/a deaths is caused by cancer.
- Lack of access to care increasingly threatens to increase the mortality rate in this community.
- Studies suggest an increase of 142 percent in the number of cancer cases among the Latino/a population during the next two decades.
The need for bilingual and bicultural services and access to treatment is critical. In response to this pressing need, Latinas Contra Cancer, led by founder and executive director Ysabel Durón, recently organized the second National Latino/a Cancer Summit in San Francisco. Researchers, health care providers, and community agencies convened to discuss their needs and concerns, their latest work, and how to advance the national Latino/a cancer agenda.
Eliminating social inequities is a priority that guides BCA’s work. The conference was an opportunity for BCA to learn firsthand about the issues and gaps in services surrounding the Latino/a community, as well as to meet with participating individuals and organizations. At the event, BCA staff members collaborated with oncologists from South America, a UCSF physician, and members of the California Breast Cancer Research Program to develop a platform for a National Latino/a Cancer Agenda for 2010 and beyond. This agenda built on the work published in the 2004 Redes en Acción Latino Cancer Report. As a team, we discussed ways to improve access to cancer screening and care, issues surrounding health care services and Latino/as, and the need to increase awareness and education of the environmental health risks associated with cancer.
There is a great need to turn these ideas into practical and relevant information for the intended audiences. At BCA, we believe the task must be trusted to Latino/a public health and community leaders. To truly stand by our program priority to illuminate and eliminate social inequities, BCA must do more than simply share its knowledge and information on breast cancer and minorities with a broader mainstream public. We must collaborate with Latino/a community leaders to make information accessible, culturally relevant, and applicable to minority populations. While we cannot pretend to know what communities need to do with the information we give them, we can ask them to guide us on how to best carry out our mission. BCA is currently reaching out to Latino/a community leaders to begin this collaborative work. We plan to expand this model to meet the needs of other underserved populations in the area.
If you are interested in working with us on this project, please contact Miriam in the BCA Program office at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the BCA Program office at 415/243-9301, ext. 13.