Salud Saturday: Educating Latinos about cancer

Guest Post by Laura Tellado Calderón (@Laurita86)

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is “the second leading cause of death among Hispanics, responsible for 20 percent of overall deaths and 13 percent of deaths in children.”

While the most common cancers among Latino men are prostate, colorectal, and lung, the leading cancers among Latina women are breast, colorectal, and lung, it was reported by the Office of Minority Health and Bureau of Primary Health Care, and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

In a report predicting cancer incidence rates for Latinos between 2009 and 2011, a line graph shows the rates of cancer among Latinos by gender and  specific cancer type.

It is clear that cancer has become a public health threat to Latinos everywhere in the U.S. With this in mind, the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN) announced on Monday it has partnered with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in launching a “cancer awareness and education initiative” that will specifically target the Spanish-speaking community.

In a press release distributed by PR Newswire, Magaly Rivera, Vice President of Development for HITN, was quoted as saying, “Arming our communities with information about risks, prevention, and treatment is our goal. This partnership will bring more awareness to our communities to prepare more families to be champions and advocates for their own health.  We are honored to add NCI’s expertise to our health campaign Mi Salud Primero that offers family friendly tools for health awareness and improvement.”

Which brings us to the question: should we wait for a formal awareness initiative to take place in order to inform our community about these serious risks? The answer is no, but the good news is, we have the power to make up for lost time. We possess the tools right at our fingertips to start our own campaigns for knowledge about cancer, from our iPhones to our Blackberries to our laptops. It may be as simple as Tweeting an informative article during one of LATISM’s weekly parties, when many Latinos are engaged online and stand ready to amplify your message.

Or it might involve partnering with a clinic in your community and organizing a health fair, and asking local prominent Latinos (politicians, doctors, lawyers, etc.) to endorse or sponsor the event to draw more attention.

We’re living in a very paranoid environment, where we fear everything that we see on the six o’ clock news or in the newsstand. However, we need to take a more assertive approach in disseminating the information in a way that encourages people to take action. And there are many non-profit organizations that are reaching out to lower-income people who might not be able to afford access to preventive care or treatment. One such initiative is Latinas Contra Cancer, a non-profit based in Silicon Valley, California that offers vital information, as well as screening and treatment services, to Latino patients.

In January, the widely-known organization LIVESTRONG issued a survey to “further understand how cancer impacts Hispanics and gather data that will inform evidence-based programs, resources and tools to improve outcomes for Latinos,” the Hispanic PR blog reported.

Indeed, we may be a long ways away from finding a cure for cancer, and we must definitely continue to support research programs and educational campaigns for prevention, but it is nonetheless encouraging to see that Latinos are taking matters into their own hands, and allowing awareness to spread, instead of cancer.

Here are some Spanish-language resources where you can learn more:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Tellado is a journalist/health blogger from Puerto Rico dedicated to generate public awareness of Spina Bifida, a neural tube defect of the spinal cord that is the #1 cause of paralysis in children in America. Follow Laura on Twitter @Laurita86. Read more about her campaign at her blog:

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    AnaRC 9 years ago

    Wow Laurita, Te votaste! What an amazing post. Really informative and it gives us a revealing picture of the health situation in our community. Keep us informed. You are our Health Hero!

    Laurita Tellado 9 years ago

    Muchísimas gracias, Anita!! Sabes que me inspiro a escribir porque sé que tengo tantos en la comunidad LATISM que me apoyan “no matter what.” Eso sólo es suficiente para darme ánimo para escribir sobre lo que me apasiona– la salud humana. You are my heroes!!! <3

    Ysabel 9 years ago

    Thank you Laurita from Latinas Contra Cancer. We have been raising cancer awareness for the past 8 years and now how much more work there is to be done. But the more bloggers like you pick up the information and pass it on, the more we can get especially our younger Latinos to listen.
    Ysabel Duron, Founder, Latinas Contra Cancer, San Jose, CA

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