Canadian Cancer Society study recruits doctors to boost screening uptake
TORONTO, Oct. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Regular screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer saves lives by finding cancer early enough for successful treatment. However, research has shown that some ethnic communities are significantly less likely to get tested than the general population for a variety of cultural, linguistic and economic reasons. Among these under-screened groups are South Asian Canadians.
"Only about 20% of older South Asian women living in poor neighbourhoods have been screened for cervical cancer, for example," says Dr Aisha Lofters, a family physician and clinician scientist at St. Michael's Hospital's Department of Family and Community Medicine in Toronto. "In contrast, among Canadian-born women living in the highest-income neighbourhoods, almost 80% have been appropriately screened."
Dr Lofters has received a new Knowledge to Action grant from the Canadian Cancer Society to tackle the under-screening issue in the South Asian population in Peel Region.
Ontario is home to one of Canada's largest South Asian communities, many of whom live in Peel, just northwest of Toronto. Peel is the second-largest municipality in Ontario after Toronto, and includes the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the town of Caledon. Approximately 25% of the population of Peel region is of South Asian ethnicity.
While most screening initiatives target patients directly, Dr Lofters' study will engage family physicians to address the reluctance and encourage screening uptake among their South Asian patients. The participating doctors will share their findings (what worked and what didn't) with their medical colleagues.
Strategies to be used may include:
- shorter wait times for appointments; interpretation services; transportation help (such as subway tokens); and hours that don't interfere with employment and other responsibilities
- educational materials that are well-translated, easy-to-understand, include endorsements from credible community sources and are distributed through South Asian media outlets. These may include information about:
- cancer screening - what's involved, how often to get it done, and that it's free of cost
- cancer risk factors
- the success of cancer treatments
- using the health care system for prevention, before you get sick
"The South Asian population in Peel is tremendously under-screened and therefore much more vulnerable to cancer death. This can be prevented," says Dr Lofters. "We believe that doctors can play an important role in encouraging patients to get screening by using just a few simple and sensitive strategies."
For the purposes of this study, South Asians were defined as people with Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan ancestry, with varied religious beliefs and linguistic preferences, born both inside and outside of Canada.
"The work Dr Lofters is conducting with the South Asian community in Peel Region has already improved our understanding of why some populations remain under screened," says Dr Sian Bevan, Director of Research, Canadian Cancer Society. "With her new Knowledge to Action grant, she will be able to take that understanding and apply it to changing the way primary care providers work with under-screened populations to raise screening rates, prevent more cancers, and save more lives. We designed the Knowledge to Action program as a way to support exceptional researchers like Dr Lofters who have the vision to create practical, evidence-informed solutions to persistent problems in cancer prevention, treatment and care."
About the Knowledge to Action Grants
The Knowledge to Action grants are a new grants program that encourages ideas that will close the gap between what is known from research and what is done with that knowledge with the aim of improving outcomes and experiences of cancer patients and their families. The Society awarded 6 new grants worth almost $600,000.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
For 75 years, the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).-939-3333 (TTY: 1-866-786-3934).
Media backgrounder - Knowledge to Action Grants
In addition to Dr Lofters' grant, the Society awarded 5 other grants:
Dr Denise Bryant-Lukosius, Hamilton, ($98,826) - Many people with cancer experience pain, fatigue, and anxiety, but not all health care providers know how to deal with these symptoms. Dr Bryant-Lukosius will look at how Ontario cancer centres are using best practice guidelines to help patients with these problems, which approaches are working best, what are the barriers, and how to spread these best practices across the country to improve the quality and consistency of managing symptoms and improving the quality of life of cancer patients.
Dr Jennifer Jones, Toronto ($99,919) - An effective treatment for prostate cancer is to restrict the male hormone androgen, but this can affect bone density and lead to osteoporosis and/or fractures later in life. Although it is known that men on this therapy have almost twice the risk of bone fractures and guidelines exist to manage bone health in men, this knowledge is not currently being applied effectively in clinical practice as many patients and health care providers are largely unaware of the great risks and what to do about them. In Dr Jones' project, the researchers will test a simple, inexpensive tool they have developed, called BoneRx, which is intended to provide patients and physicians information and direction they need to manage this problem.
Prof Robert Reid, Ottawa (($100,000) - Most people now know that smoking causes cancer, but fewer may know that people who already have cancer can reduce complications of treatment and improve their quality of life if they quit smoking. The Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation has been proven effective in many health care settings. Prof Reid's research will implement this model for the first time in a cancer care setting, where patients are highly motivated to quit.
Dr Alice Wei, Toronto ($100,000) - Pancreatic cancer, a cancer with one of the poorest prognoses, is usually treated by complex surgery with risk of complications. Complication rates vary depending on where the surgery is performed and different institutions have different processes in place to care for these patients. Dr Wei's team is testing a 'roadmap' for patient care that incorporates recommendations based on the best available evidence, into an easy-to-use bedside tool for health practitioners to help ensure patients receive the highest standard of care and achieve the best post-surgery outcomes.
What the Society is doing
Along with funding research to improve screening rates among under screened communities, the Canadian Cancer Society also supports the following initiatives:
Screening Saves Lives program, Ontario
Ontario's Screening Saves Lives program uses a successful peer-to-peer approach to improve the cancer screening rates of communities that are less likely to get screened, including South Asian, First Nations and the LGBTQ communities. The program recruits Health Ambassadors, who possess unique understandings of the social, cultural and other factors affecting their communities. The program trains the ambassadors with screening and health promotion knowledge, which is shared in peer-based health promotion initiatives.
Sirf Dus (Tell 10 women), British Columbia
Running primarily in the Fraser Valley region, Sirf Dus (Tell 10 Women in Punjabi) promotes mammography in the South Asian community through cultural events, celebrations and temple gatherings with the goal of creating an open dialogue about early detection and prevention of cancer. The program uses culturally specific messages to encourage to inspire women who are reluctant to get screened and to encourage 10 women to get screened.
Watch the Sirf Dus video
Image with caption: "With a Canadian Cancer Society Knowledge to action grant, Dr Aisha Lofters will tackle the issue of cancer under-screening in the South Asian population in Ontario's Peel Region. (CNW Group/Canadian Cancer Society (National Office))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131001_C5808_PHOTO_EN_31505.jpg
SOURCE: Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)
For further information:
Bilingual Communications Specialist
Canadian Cancer Society