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Gastric cancer, which forms in the lining of the stomach, is more likely to afflict Latinos than whites, and in Texas is diagnosed at younger ages and less curable stages.
Dorothy Long Parma wants to find out why.
Long Parma, a researcher at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio, the team behind Salud America!, recently received a three-year, $360,000 “Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program Career Development Award” from the U.S. Department of Defense to study the risk factors for gastric cancer in Latinos.
The study will look closely at H. pylori bacterial infection, which increases risk of gastric cancer, and is common among Latinos, according to a prior study led by Long Parma.
Long Parma also will examine other factors like behaviors, environment, and social status.
“We want to identify risk factors that will show us new ways to improve healthcare for H. pylori-related stomach illnesses, and help prevent gastric cancer in Latinos,” said Long Parma.
The Study’s Big Activities
No study to date has examined H. pylori infection diagnosis and management in South Texas Latinos.
To fill that gap, Long Parma’s study will determine whether H. pylori and gastric illness disparities exist at the diagnosis, management, and follow-up stages of the outpatient experience in this population.
The research team will first examine patients’ electronic medical records from two local health systems. They also will interview administrators, clinicians, and patients in primary care, gastroenterology, and gastric oncology.
“This research, though targeted at Latinos, has the potential to help other underrepresented minorities who suffer from high H. pylori and gastric cancer, like Native Americans, to lead healthier lives, with fewer hospitalizations and procedures related to stomach disorders and cancer,” Long Parma said.
Long Parma hopes to apply this study’s findings on a larger scale.
Within 10 years, she hopes to create clinical decision support tools for doctors and patients to increase access to and effectiveness of gastric cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in underserved groups.
“Our study aims to provide proof of the need for health care policies that are more population-specific and patient-centered, rather than ‘one size fits all,'” Long Parma said. “This includes antibiotic regimens tailored to minimize resistance by using alternative drugs.”
The study will run from September 2019 to September 2022.