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New SLU initiative aims to combat cancer in African Americans

(National Cancer Institute/Bill Branson)

Saint Louis University is launching a new initiative to try to fight cancer in minorities.

The SLU Center for Cancer Prevention, Research and Outreach will work with community organizations to improve cancer outcomes for African Americans living in North St. Louis City and County.

The initiative will initially focus on breast and prostate cancer.

Center director, Ricardo Wray, says African Americans are more likely to get those types of cancer – and are less likely to survive them.

“In the instance of prostate cancer, for example, African American men are about 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than European Americans, and they’re almost two-and-a-half times as likely to die of it,” Wray says.

Wray says one of the factors contributing to the disparity is a lack of access to screening and treatment services.

“So one of the things that the Center is trying to do is enhance the access to these kinds of services to underserved and uninsured populations,” Wray says.

Wray says the initiative will eventually expand to work with immigrant populations, including Bosnians and Hispanics.

The project is a collaboration between the Saint Louis University Cancer Centerand SLU’s School of Public Health, and is funded by a $1.25 million, five-year grant from Emerson, the Express Scripts Foundation, and Ascension Health.

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience