Thursday, December 9, 2004

Improving Cancer Care for Native Americans

Fri Nov 19,11:47 PM

FRIDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDayNews) -- A research project designed to increase access of Native Americans in South Dakota to cancer clinical trials and new cancer treatments has received a five-year, $5.4 million grant from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (news - web sites).

 Native Americans have higher cancer death rates than the general population, largely because the disease is often more advanced by the time they are diagnosed.

This project is being conducted by the Rapid City Regional Hospital, the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Mayo Rochester Comprehensive Cancer Center. It focuses on the Lakota (Western Sioux) population in South Dakota.

There are three main objectives. The project will attempt to identify major factors that cause health-care disparities among Native Americans served by Rapid City Regional Hospital. It will also assess whether shorter, but equally effective, courses of treatment will improve acceptability and completion rates of radiotherapy among the Lakota.

The project will also explore whether there is a genetic basis for anecdotal reports that Native Americans suffer greater side effects when they undergo radiation therapy.

"Traditionally, Native Americans have been less likely to benefit from the progress being made in cancer research because of a multitude of barriers," principal investigator and radiation oncologist Dr. Daniel Petereit said in a prepared statement.

"To address these barriers, we are working closely with the Sioux Nation to develop innovative approaches that will ensure Native Americans have equal access to the best possible care," Petereit said.

The project is outlined in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.