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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU to host cancer conference to understand health disparities in rural areas

New Mexico State University, in a partnership with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is building bridges to improve rural health in a conference starting May 27 in Las Cruces.

As part of a $10 million grant awarded by the National Cancer Institute, NMSU and Fred Hutchinson are hosting the Cancer Health Disparities Conference to understand fundamental cancer health disparities in the southwest rural areas of the United States.

"This conference brings together experts in all areas affecting cancer health disparities - from etiology to screening to treatment and, uniquely, policy. By bringing together individuals with strong interests and expertise in these specific areas, we expect to improve communications among the various groups and develop some specific solutions, as well as to set the stage for future integration and collaboration, said Lené Löest, program coordinator for Partnership for the Advancement of Cancer Research.

Although New Mexico is home to high technology, with two national laboratories, much of the population, particularly minorities, are young, rural, poor and medically uninsured and underserved.

"Cancer patterns are unique and differ by ethnicity in New Mexico and the reason for this is not known," Löest said. In addition, she added, as New Mexico is the fifth largest state in land mass, travel from remote areas for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up is difficult.

The conference will showcase the current capabilities and needs in the region of cancer public health and outreach programs with an emphasis on rural health disparities.

The conference program includes a poster session and a roundtable. Undergraduate and graduate students conducting research on basic/translational research, intervention research, and public policy and advocacy will have an opportunity to present their research during the poster session. The goal of the roundtable is to summarize the state of cancer care in New Mexico by identifying successful, sustainable and transferable community-based behavioral interventions.

"This conference will provide a space and time for researchers and health care providers to discuss the realities of cancer care in rural areas with diverse populations. I know that many productive teams will form from the conference participants to work on solutions to these problems," said Mary O'Connell, a professor in NMSU's Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and a principal investigator in the partnership.

The conference is May 27-29 at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces. There are fees to attend the event and registration is required. Attendees have until May 27 to register for the conference.

For questions or information on the conference, call Löest at (575) 646-5104 or visit http://cancer.nmsu.edu.