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Expanding Cancer Care

Thanks to a $3.3 million grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, the Georgia Cancer Center is adding three additional cancers to its cancer-Community Awareness Access Research and Education (c-CARE) initiative.

Known as c-CARE II, the new initiative targets health disparities in breast, multiple myeloma and prostate cancers for African Americans in urban or rural underserved areas in Georgia. It builds on the first c-CARE grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation that was used to develop a similar education program for lung cancer.

According to Dr. Martha Tingen, associate director for Cancer Prevention, Control and Population Health at the Georgia Cancer Center and principal investigator for the new grant, understanding the risk factors for these cancers is an important part of staying healthy. The grant will attempt to raise awareness of these cancers within the African American community by partnering with faith-based leaders and community health care workers across Georgia to improve health outcomes through culturally tailored education presented by community members participants know and respect.

Statistically, African Americans are more likely to receive a cancer diagnosis later — and to die from cancer earlier — than white Americans, and much of Georgia lacks access to important health care information. The three-year study will enroll 600 Black adults from 20 faith-based sites across areas facing some of Georgia’s poorest health indicators and outcomes.

The idea is to build bridges with the community and inform the congregations about community-related programs, research and resources so that they can stay healthy and, if needed, know what treatment options are available and how to access them.

“The most important part of a cancer diagnosis is knowledge,” Tingen says. “You need to know your risk factors and how to prevent a cancer diagnosis, but you also need to know what steps you need to take if you are diagnosed.”

The grant will navigate populations most at risk to genetic testing when appropriate and direct them to specialized care for breast, multiple myeloma and prostate cancer when needed.

Unique to the grant is the “Twinning Project,” in which Cancer Center researchers partner with health care leaders in six African countries to replicate the initial c-CARE study with these new cancers. Working with representatives from these countries, Tingen’s team has tailored material to each country’s needs with accurate statistics, information and illustrations, translated into 15 languages.

“Here at the Georgia Cancer Center, our aim is to improve the health of all individuals, including those in the underserved areas of our state and extending around the world,” Tingen says. “And we’re grateful to be able to expand the number of cancers we can focus on within this particular community.”

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