University of Illinois Cancer Center Well-Represented at ASPO

University of Illinois Cancer Center member Leslie Carnahan served as a panelist on a cancer health disparities session at the 43rd Annual American Society of Preventive Oncology’s meeting in Tucson, Ariz.

Carnahan, PhD, MPH, a public health cancer disparities researcher at the cancer center and the UIC School of Public Health, discussed her recent work, the sociodemographic characteristic associated with COVID-19 related delays in cancer screenings and decreased trust in the healthcare system among an urban cancer center’s catchment area population. The session was moderated by Theresa Hastert, PhD, of the Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit.

A community health needs assessment was conducted by Carnahan and her colleagues in both English and Spanish languages in the cancer center’s catchment area at 12 community events between July to September 2021. Participants, who had to be at least 18 years of age, were asked 28 questions about sociodemograhics, the pandemic, cancer screening, and trust in the health care system.

The majority of the 385 respondents were female (78%), Hispanic (62%) or non-Hispanic Black (29%), with the mean age being 48. Twenty five percent of those surveyed said they experienced delayed cancer screenings due to the pandemic, with the same percentage (25) saying they distrusted the health system. Hispanics were more likely to experience a delay and decreased trust, and those with no insurance, compared to individuals with private insurance, were more likely to be delayed (37% compared to 21%).

“Our findings highlight the need for outreach efforts to re-engage those populations who already experience a disproportionate burden of cancer disparities, and address the impact of COVID-19 on cancer outcomes,” said Carnahan, a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control program.

Among those assisting Carnahan with the research was Jeanette Gonzalez, Barbara Williams and Erica Martinez of the cancer center.

A poster competition was also held during the annual meeting, with Eunhye “Grace” Lee, a doctoral student mentored by Cancer Center member Yamile Molina, PhD, MPH, MS, associate director of community outreach and engagement, being awarded first place for her work titled “Comparing the impact of interventions on psychosocial facilitators to breast cancer screening among Latina women.” The study found that empowerment interventions – training Latinas who are non-adherent to breast cancer screening guidelines to be leaders in their community – appear to have greater effects on mammography use than education.

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