More Than Meets the Eye: How Surviving Colon Cancer Transformed Marielle Santos McLeod’s Advocacy Work



Marielle Santos McLeod thought she knew a lot about cancer care.  Years as a health professional had given her time to learn about cancer care and gain a closer look at the barriers Latinos face in getting equitable treatment.  That’s why, when the mother of four was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 36, she was shocked by just how little she really knew.  However, it was enduring the disease as a young Latina that guided her toward her life's purpose – serving as a patient advocate to uplift the voice of Latino cancer survivors.  “I love advocacy .... It's like one of the things that I'm convinced that I was put on this earth to do. I just had to get cancer to get to it first,” Santos McLeod said.  Spanish-Language Influence  Santos McLeod doesn’t believe ...

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Dr. Amelie Ramirez: Helping Latino Cancer Survivors Share Their Journeys


Amelie Ramirez - UT Health San Antonio 1

Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, leader of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, recently shared the need to help Latino cancer survivors on "Science & Medicine," an audio collaboration of Texas Public Radio and UT Health San Antonio. Bonnie Petrie, TPR's bioscience and medicine reporter, hosted the segment. Ramirez spoke to Petrie about her project to improve care and life for Latino cancer, called “Avanzando Caminos (Leading Pathways): The Hispanic/Latino Cancer Survivorship Study.” "Our big goal is to really have more equitable care for everyone, not only in South Texas, but nationwide, and that their outcomes for survival are also improved,” Ramirez said during the segment. Listen to the full audio here. About the Avanzando Caminos Research Project Avanzando Caminos ...

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UT Health San Antonio Approved for a $250,000 Engagement Award for Cancer Research in South Texas


UT Health San Antonio PCORI Engagement Award for Cancer Research in South Texas

Dr. Rebecca Jones of UT Health San Antonio has been approved for a 2-year, $250,000 funding award through the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards (Engagement Awards) program, an initiative of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The funds will support the creation of the Creando Conexiones: Cancer Health Equity Research Agenda, which will outline research priorities identified by South Texas cancer survivors, caregivers, and community members. Join the Creando Conexiones coalition! "We know that research has the most impact when guided by voices of cancer survivors and community members," said Jones, assistant director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research and part of the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio. "With their input, we ...

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First-Ever Cancer Patient Advocate Training Program Saves Seat at the Table for Latinos



Ahead of the 2024 Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos Conference, 15 Latina women from across the country came together, unified by a common thread — to become a research patient advocate. This gathering, on Feb. 20, 2024, marked the first in-person meeting of the Latino Cancer Patient Advocate Training Program, a new initiative to teach cancer survivors to become research patient advocates, who help others navigate the healthcare system and raise the Latino voice in research. Patient advocates are critical to the goal of reducing Latino cancer disparities, said Dr. Barbara Segarra-Vázquez of the University of Puerto Rico, co-leader of the new program. “You really have to have passion to become a patient advocate,” said Segarra-Vazquez. “It’s that desire to help ...

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Recap: The 2024 Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos Conference



Why is cancer the top cause of death for Latinos? To unpack this question, Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio hosted the 4th biennial Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos conference on Feb. 21-23, 2024, in San Antonio, Texas. Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos drew 280 researchers, doctors, leaders, patient advocates, and students for an open dialogue on Latino cancer. Discussion covered new research advances on clinical best practices, effective community interventions, system-change advocacy, and professional training to eliminate cancer disparities in Latinos. “Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos is where we can come together and find equitable solutions for cancer prevention, treatment, and survivorship among Latinos,” ...

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Salud America! Team Member Wins Hackathon on Cancer Data!


Edgar Munoz of IHPR Salud America UT Health San Antonio Hackathon cancer data

Edgar Muñoz, a statistician at Salud America! at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at UT Health San Antonio, has won the Hackathon at VCU Massey Cancer Center's first-ever Catchment Area Data Conference on Dec. 7-9, 2023! The conference brought together data experts from U.S. cancer centers. Attendees shared best practices in data collection, handling, dissemination, and utilization, while exploring policies and methodologies to advance cancer center catchment area analytics and community engagement. For the Hackathon, Muñoz showcased the CancerClarity app (try it here) with his teammates, Alex VanHelene of Rhode Island Hospital and Nuen Tsang Yang of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. The CancerClarity app offers users an interactive exploration of ...

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What Would Happen If More People Got Cancer Screenings?



Cancer screening can help catch cancer early when it is more treatable. But participation in screening is sporadic at best, especially among Latinos.  What would happen if more people got screened for cancer?  To find out, a team of U.S. and Canadian researchers used computer modeling to estimate the number of deaths that could be prevented, and the harms caused, if more people followed recommended cancer screening guidelines.  Let’s explore what they found and what it means for Latino cancer.  The Impact of More Screening: Potential Lives Saved  Cancer screenings can catch early cases of lung, colorectal, cervical, and breast cancers.  But only 13% of people eligible are up to date for lung cancer screening; 69% for colorectal cancer screening; 73% for cervical ...

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The State of Cigarette Smoking and E-Cigarette Use in Latinos



Only 7.7% of Latino adults in 2021 smoked cigarettes, which is lower than the national prevalence of 11.5%, the Truth Initiative reports.  But the news isn’t all good.  While Latino adults have a lower usage rate of all tobacco products than adults overall, smoking prevalence differs widely within Latino subgroups and by gender.  Let’s explore Latino tobacco use and why it matters for health.  Cigarette Smoking Patterns in Latino Adults    Latinos in the U.S. that identify as Puerto Rican reported the highest current smoking prevalence at 17%. The lowest rates are among Latinos with Central or South American origin (6%), the Truth Initiative reports.  Latina women have a lower smoking rates (6%) than Latino men (12%).    In 2022, 7.8% of young Latino adults ...

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New Cancer Cases Projected to Surpass 2M Historical High



New cancer cases are projected to surpass 2 million in 2024 - a first in for the U.S., according to American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2024 report.  The landmark projection amounts to 5,500 diagnoses a day.  The American Cancer Society attributes the rise in cases to a growing and aging population along with an increase in diagnoses of six common cancers – breast, prostate, endometrial, pancreatic, kidney, and melanoma.  In addition, the organization is projecting over 611,000 deaths from cancer in 2024, a .19% increase from 2023. That is more than 1,600 deaths each day!  While cancer is prevalent across people of all races, ethnicities, ages, genders, and backgrounds, it disproportionately continues to affect people of color, such as Latinos.  Cancer in ...

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