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NAU program studies cancer in Native Americans

Posted at 6:56 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 21:56:37-04

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Researchers at Northern Arizona University are trying to prevent cancer by highlighting the disproportionate impact the disease has on the American Indian community.

Since 2002, the Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention has studied why Native Americans have higher rates of cancer and lower rates of survival.

"There's different things that each of these tribes," said Dr. Jani Ingram.

"So it becomes a pretty complex issue," she said.

Arizona has the largest Native American population for any state.

NACP is one of 16 partnerships funded by NCI but it is the only one dedicated to studying the Native American population.

According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, Native Americans have a higher rate of certain cancers including lung, liver, breast, colon, stomach, and kidney.

American Indian populations also suffer from the worst cancer survival rates of any population in the US, with a mortality rate after diagnosis of 51%.

In addition to treating patients, Ingram told ABC15 that NAU is looking for ways to prevent cancer through education.

"So one of the things, and one of the projects are actually doing this, is trying to make the information and the education more culturally relevant," she said.

Ingram said the group will also be producing materials in Native languages.

They also hope to improve access to healthcare and recruit more Native Americans into cancer-related fields. 

You can find more information about the program, online here.