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Keywords:

  • AANCART;
  • Hmong;
  • cancer;
  • Asian American

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract

The Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research, and Training (AANCART) is dedicated to increasing cancer awareness, conducting research, and providing training to reduce the burden of cancer among Asian Americans. It is comprised of seven regions around the country where approximately one-third of Asian Americans in the United States reside. The Fifth Asian American Cancer Control Academy, which was held in Sacramento in October 2004, was the final Academy to be held during the initial 5-year AANCART project period. At the academy, various speakers addressed the national perspective on reducing and controlling the disparate burden of cancer borne by the ethnic and medically underserved communities of our country and cancer control in Asian-American communities.. Cancer 2005. © 2005 American Cancer Society.

The Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research, and Training (AANCART) has conducted 5 Academies, or annual conferences, since its inception in April 2000. AANCART is supported through funding from the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Special Populations Network, and, as its name implies, it is dedicated to increasing cancer awareness, conducting research, and providing training to reduce the burden of cancer among Asian Americans. The AANCART Academies play a particularly pivotal role in the awareness and training aspects of this unique national network.

AANCART currently is comprised of seven regions around the country where approximately one-third of Asian Americans in the United States reside. The First Asian-American Cancer Control Academy was hosted by the San Francisco Region in October 2001 and focused on lung and liver cancer prevention among Vietnamese and Chinese-Americans. Two Academies were conducted in 2002: An Academy in Boston addressed diet-related cancer control among Korean Americans, and an Academy in Seattle emphasized cancer, culture, and community health in Cambodian Americans. The Fourth Asian American Cancer Control Academy was held in October 2003 in Los Angeles, and its theme was “The Confluence of Science and Culture: Cancer in America's Asian Communities.” That Academy focused on Filipino Americans and South Asian Americans as populations of special interest. Each of those Academies offered a very unique and special blend of science, culture, and medicine: and the fifth Academy was no exception.

The Fifth Asian American Cancer Control Academy, which was held in Sacramento in October 2004, represented the final Academy to be held during the initial 5-year AANCART project period. In a sense, this Academy was a commemoration and celebration of the first 5 years of AANCART, and its theme, “Community Partnerships for Cancer Control: From Vision to Synergy to Reality” symbolized the truly community-based nature of AANCART. Highlighted in this Academy was the exceptional relationship between the Sacramento Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy and Leadership (CAPITAL), the California Division of the American Cancer Society, the California Department of Health Services Cancer Control Branch (DHS-CCB), and AANCART, which is headquartered at the University of California–Davis Cancer Center. This unique relationship has enabled us to make great strides in cancer control among the Asian-American community in the Sacramento area and beyond.

Whereas AANCART efforts in Sacramento are directed toward all Asian American/Pacific Islander populations, there is a special focus on cancer control in the Hmong community in California's Central Valley. The Hmong community in the greater Sacramento area is among the nation's largest, second only to Minnesota's, and is growing rapidly with the addition of several thousand new immigrants from refugee camps in Thailand. Reflecting these emphases of Sacramento AANCART, the program for this Academy included several presentations focusing on the Hmong, their culture, and community-driven cancer control, including a workshop on advocacy and increasing health awareness of the Hmong and other ethnic communities. Another plenary session, which was an interactive panel discussion, focused on influence and empowerment of the community and was led by CAPITAL community leaders.

Providing the keynote address to this Academy was Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, current Director of the NCI. Dr. von Eschenbach presented the national perspective on reducing and controlling the disparate burden of cancer borne by the ethnic and medically underserved communities of our country. Also providing a national perspective on cancer control in Asian-American communities were Dr. Ralph Vance, current President of the American Cancer Society, and Dr. Ken Chu, Program Officer for the NCI Special Populations Network. Dr. Moon Chen, AANCART Principal Investigator, and Dr. Dileep G. Bal, Sacramento AANCART Principal Investigator, also comment on cancer control issues that confront the nation's and California's Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations.

A number of California-based presentations were part of the agenda and proceedings, including the state's latest Asian/Pacific Islander cancer statistics provided by the statewide California Cancer Registry, incidence data specifically for the Hmong in California, and an overview of California's tobacco-control initiatives for Asian Americans. Highlighting California's cancer-control efforts dedicated to Asian Americans in the Academy program was the presentation of the AANCART and DHS-CCB pilot project, which will be developed into a full, statewide “Five-a-Day” program for better nutritional health tailored specifically for Asian Americans in the state. California is the birthplace of the nationwide Five-a-Day program and also has developed individual programs focusing on the state's African-American, Latino, and now Asian-American populations.

Rounding out the Academy program, each of the 7 AANCART regions included reports on their “best practices” to commemorate the end of the first 5-year project period, and reports on 7 NCI-funded AANCART pilot projects also were included. A separate break-out session focusing on accrual of Asian Americans to clinical trials also was part of the proceedings and provided the latest thoughts on how to increase the numbers of ethnically and culturally diverse individuals participating in these trials. Finally, the presentation by this year's Christopher N. H. Jenkins Award recipient, Dr. Marjorie Kagawa-Singer, was included.

I have been privileged to serve as Superintendent of this Academy, and I hope that the participants find the proceedings of this exceptional conference helpful and informative and believe that we have made a meaningful contribution to the control of cancer in Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Given the ever increasing Asian-American proportion of the United States population and the paucity of specific data and interventions for Asian Americans, especially as they relate to cancer prevention and control, AANCART was born. This is merely one more significant step in the fulfilling of that AANCART promise. To paraphrase the late Winston Churchill, it is not the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.