Arizona Cancer Center Receives $1.8M Grant to Prevent/Screen Cancer Among Latinas in Tucson and Phoenix Areas; Arizona College of Public Health Faculty to Collaborate
The Arizona Cancer Center recently was awarded a $1.8 million grant from the American Cancer Society for a five-year study that aims to prevent and screen for three types of cancer among Latinas in Tucson and Phoenix. The effort represents a collaboration between the Center and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman Arizona College of Public Health.
The study, Juntos en la Salud (Together in Health), aims to compare and refine two methods of implementing a community health advisor, or "promotora," program designed to improve breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening and primary prevention behaviors among a population of underserved, primarily Hispanic women, 18 and older.
"Latinas have nearly twice the incidence rate for cervical cancer than non-Hispanic women, while the two most common cancers among Latinas are breast and colorectal," notes Linda K. Larkey, PhD, assistant professor at the Arizona College of Public Health and principal investigator on the study. "For these cancers-all of which have early detection tests-screening rates are particularly low among the Latina population, often two-thirds the rates of those for the general population of women. Thus survival rates are comparatively poor."
The two methods will be assigned randomly and implemented through clinics, community-based organizations and physician offices in Phoenix and Tucson. In one method, promotoras will meet with women individually to provide educational information and encourage prevention behaviors and adherence to screening guidelines. In the second method, promotoras will create ongoing social groups of women that will meet to learn about cancer prevention and to foster group dynamics likely to change behavior in the desired direction, providing a much higher level of support than could be provided by the promotora alone.
Outcomes to be assessed include improving rates of mammography, Pap tests, increasing physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption, and decreasing household tobacco use. For both methods, promotoras will be trained to educate Hispanic women about primary prevention and screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer using culturally appropriate, standardized materials.
Researchers hope to establish that participating in supporting social groups instead of standard individual appointments increases adherence to breast, cervical, or colorectal screening guidelines. In addition, they hope to find that the social groups help support the Latina women in cancer prevention behaviors related to tobacco, diet and physical activity.
Established by the Arizona Board of Regents in January 2000, the Mel and Enid Zuckerman Arizona College of Public Health is the first public health college in the four corner states and represents a tri-university collaborative effort among the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. The Arizona College of Public Health's mission is to promote the health of individuals and communities with a special emphasis on diverse populations and the Southwest. Programs concentrate on the reduction of health disparities, the development and maintenance of healthy communities, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.