|Summer 2010-News from the Director|
In this issue of Crossroads, we focus on the commitment of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center to positively impact the health and well-being of populations that suffer disproportionately from the burden of cancer.
In the early 1990s, we recognized that our geographic location in the Deep South all but mandated that we develop a research and delivery program to understand and eventually eliminate cancer health disparities. Because of low income and low education, the Deep South has increased incidence and mortality rates for many cancers. In addition, our region has higher levels of obesity as a result of poor nutrition and limited physical activity, not to mention tobacco usage that exceeds the national average.
One of the failures of our nation and our current health-care system is the unequal delivery of our medical discoveries to all segments of the population. New discoveries can positively impact cancer outcomes, but when they are delivered differently, they cause cancer health disparities. Examples include the failure to successfully deliver the message to all segments of the population that tobacco kills, or to provide mammography or colonoscopy (both of which reduce mortality for breast and colorectal cancers) equally to all regardless of income, education or ethnicity. These discoveries should have been communicated before disparities even occurred.
Our Cancer Center has addressed the issue of unequal delivery head on. For a decade, it has been our belief that building trust, infrastructure and relationships in communities and populations that suffer disproportionately from a cancer burden is the first step in effective delivery. This provides the opportunity to effectively export knowledge into those communities and to use the knowledge and abilities already in the communities to help us be even more effective in delivering what we know.
You should be very proud of your UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s commitment to eliminating cancer health disparities in our state and region. Your continued support of the center is critical to achieving our vision of eliminating cancer as a major public health problem.
Edward Partridge, M.D.Director and Evalina B. Spencer Chair in Oncology