American Cancer Society recognizes National Minority Cancer Awareness Week

Community Health Advisor Program has helped hundreds in Central Louisiana

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 7:14pm

National Minority Cancer Awareness Week is April 15-21, and the American Cancer Society is encouraged by the progress being made among racial and ethnic populations across Central Louisiana in the fight against this disease. As cancer death rates continue to decline, the Society uses the Community Health Advisor (CHA) program aimed at helping racial/ethnic communities reduce the impact of cancer by increasing awareness through education about the importance of early detection and cancer screening for women and men.

With the help of numerous community partners and funding from The Rapides Foundation, the American Cancer Society’s program has educated more than 300 local men and women on breast, cervical and colon cancers. The program links individuals in the community with local resources by using volunteer Advisors, or CHAs, to help organizations provide access to low or no-cost breast, cervical and colon screenings in the area. Since the program’s kickoff in 2012, more than 10 volunteer CHAs have been trained to assist and identify appropriate screenings for others in the community.

It is estimated that about 94,540 cancer cases in men and 82,080 cases in women are expected to be diagnosed among African Americans in 2013. About 32,970 African American men and about 31,910 African American women are expected to die from cancer in 2013. Overall, African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survivor of any racial and ethnic group in the US for most cancers.

Minorities continue to have lower screening rates than whites; report less physical activity than recommended – less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity above usual activities on five or more days per week; and consume less fruits, vegetables and whole grains. According to Society reports, racial and ethnic minorities still tend to receive lower-quality health care than whites even when insurance status, income, age and severity of conditions are comparable; and are still more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage when treatment is less successful.

“This program is very important in that it gives others in our community the education and knowledge about cancer screenings and its risk factors, which allows them to make informed decisions about their health,” said LaNeshia Gammage, local CHA Representative for the American Cancer Society. “We have all heard that knowledge is power. However, in this case, it can also help save a life.”

The local CHA program will work specifically in Rapides, Natchitoches and Avoyelles, where the communities may have lower than average cancer screening rates and higher than average percent of families underserved.

To help cut down on cancer incidence rates, the American Cancer Society uses the CHA program among others to specifically reach the populations most at risk for cancer. The program exists in Mobile, AL; Little Rock, AR; eastern Kentucky; Jackson, MS; New Orleans, LA; Jackson, MS; and Memphis, TN.

The American Cancer Society saves lives and creates more birthdays by helping people stay well, by helping people get well, by finding cures and by fighting back. For more information on this program or any of the other programs of the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit us at 

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