American Association for Cancer Research



                                                                                                    NOVEMBER 2009



Experts discuss policy and research initiatives to reduce the unequal burden of cancer

The District of Columbia has some of the highest rates of cancer mortality in the nation, including the highest mortality rates from breast cancer and the third highest incidence rates of colorectal cancer. Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of the premier institutions working to reverse those trends.

Lombardi recently joined with Friends of Cancer Research and the Capital Breast Care Center to organize a town hall meeting on its campus in Washington, D.C. to talk about cancer disparities. The event brought together a panel of experts from academia, advocacy, industry and government to discuss current research and policy initiatives aimed at addressing disproportional cancer incidence and death rates among minority populations in areas like the district.

Lombardi's Director, Louis M. Weiner, M.D., and Lucile L. Adams-Campbell, Ph.D., Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Disparities at Lombardi, offered their insights and described the center's research and community outreach initiatives that aim to address the biological and environmental basis of cancer health disparities. They joined all panelists in emphasizing that academia, government, non-profits and communities must work together to eliminate barriers in diagnosing and treating cancer in minority and underserved populations.

Thanks to the mapping of the human genome, said Anna Barker, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NCI is also harnessing science to address the challenges of cancer disparities. Researchers are rapidly working to identify molecular biomarkers of risk, cancer progression and treatment response to improve cancer outcomes in all patient populations.

Among the top policy priorities panelists hoped lawmakers would focus on were improved access to health care, greater emphasis on prevention, and the establishment of a health information technology infrastructure equipped to manage the "information tsunami" that research is now generating. Dr. Weiner emphasized that sustained resources and dedication to fighting cancer were his top policy priorities, lamenting that the nation suffers from "attention deficit disorder" when it comes to choosing its priorities and acting on them.


Read more from the November 2009 Edition of the AACR Cancer Policy Monitor: