Center will share findings of breast cancer study with South Side participantsBy William Harms
A summit meeting will convene Saturday, April 30, when University researchers will meet with members of the community and the recent participants in a community-based focus group study on early-onset breast cancer among African-American women.
Scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Metropolitan Apostolic Church, 4100 South King Drive, the meeting will address the findings of a study conducted by the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Disparities Research, in which 49 South Side community focus groups participated by discussing the disease and its impact.
“In the focus groups, a number of issues were raised that stand in the way of communication about breast cancer. These came up in individual group meetings, so this will be an opportunity to share more broadly,” said center director Sarah Gehlert, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and a specialist in women’s health issues.
“The summit will allow people who participated in groups and others to come together, discuss concerns about breast cancer and its treatment, and work together to identify action plans,” said Gehlert. A plan to further work in collaboration with members of the South Side Chicago African-American community to address the issues of breast cancer will be discussed, as well as a stronger partnership between community residents and researchers in the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Disparities.
Community involvement is a vital part of this new interdisciplinary approach to studying why African-American women have an unusually high rate of breast cancer at an early age. Researchers are working closely with community members as they develop a holistic approach that allows the South Side residents to help guide the research process.
The research project draws insights from social workers, psychologists, physicians and molecular geneticists, who are exploring multiple possible causes of breast cancer, including medical causes and the impact of social stress.
The National Institutes of Health financed the research with a five-year grant of $9.7 million. The grant is part of an NIH nationwide effort to create special research centers to address disparities in health within diverse communities. In addition to studying women in Chicago, the research group also is studying breast cancer among women in Nigeria. (See the results of that study on Page X ).
Advances in medicine have provided new information on genes and their relationship to disease, but little information exists on the genetic alterations present in tumors in African-American women and the relationship of those tumors to social factors, Gehlert said.
Though the meeting is open to the public, space is limited, and those who are interested in attending should make reservations by calling (773) 702-9968.