HATTIESBURG – The
University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Sustainable Health
Outreach has received extra ammo in its battle against cancer.
Partnering with the Deep South Network for Cancer
Control (DSNCC), the center is aiming to reduce cancer mortality
disparities in minority and poor populations across Mississippi
and Alabama through a $6.4 million grant from the National Cancer
The DSNCC, located at the University of Alabama at
Birmingham (UAB), also includes collaborators from Tuskegee University.
Focusing primarily on African-American and Hispanic communities,
the network's target areas are the Hattiesburg/Laurel region, the
Mississippi Delta, the Alabama Black Belt and Jefferson County,
The National Cancer Institute required that the program
be conducted in high-risk urban and rural sites, according to Dr.
Agnes Hinton, co-director for Southern Miss' Center for Sustainable
"We have had to fight many barriers to reduce
the deaths from cancer in these areas," Hinton said.
According to Hinton, most of the barriers include
poverty, lack of knowledge, health insurance, the inability to gain
access to mammography screenings and other cancer detection services,
and often times, lack of transportation.
"Cancer is the second leading cause of death
in American women. In 1992, the overall cancer incidence rates were
10 percent higher among African-Americans than Caucasians,"
"Moreover, African-Americans with cancer have
shorter survival rates compared to Caucasians. Cancer mortality
rates for African-Americans are almost 2.5 times greater than those
Hinton said the additional money will be used to form
community coalitions, fund other needed infrastructures to help
communities fight disparities in cancer deaths and to further train
volunteers in cancer awareness.
Over the past five years, the DSNCC has trained more
than 900 volunteer Community Health Advisors as Research Partners
(CHARPS) in the two states, increasing the numbers of women in program
counties screened for breast or cervical cancer.
"The community health advisors (CHAs) understand
the issues facing their individual communities, and people in their
neighborhoods trust and listen to them," said program manager
Hardy said the CHAs are able to educate, assist with
access to care and help individuals navigate the health-care system.
"Plus, the grant helps us provide significant economic support
to the region by hiring local staff," she said.
Hinton said not only have the DSNCC's efforts netted
significant funding from the American Cancer Society, the Susan
G. Komen Foundation and the Mississippi State Department of Health,
but they have also produced three summer training programs for undergraduate
and graduate minority students interested in cancer research, with
16 Mississippi students participating.
"Through our work with the Mississippi Partnership
for Comprehensive Cancer Control, we have advanced cancer prevention
and treatment in Mississippi," said Hinton. "Without USM,
there would be no DSNCC in Mississippi, and without the program,
little of the progress would have happened."
For more information on the Deep South Network
for Cancer Control, please contact Dr. Agnes Hinton at (601) 266-5859.