Fox Chase Cancer Center Researcher Extends Cancer Control Collaborations into the Caribbean

PHILADELPHIA (March 28, 2019) —For more than a decade, Camille Ragin, PhD, MPH, associate professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center, has been working to eliminate cancer disparities among people of African ancestry. The first step is understanding the problem.

With support from the National Cancer Institute, Ragin and colleagues are building a cancer research infrastructure in the Caribbean to prepare the region to reduce its cancer burden. Using a variety of online tools and apps to augment in-person training, they are preparing health providers and researchers on the ground to reduce the cancer burden.

“Bahamian breast cancer patients have highest proportion of BRCA1/2 mutations in the world, and breast and prostate cancer affect men and women in the Caribbean at a disproportionately higher rate,” Ragin said. “There are unique risks, needs, and characteristics we must address, starting with the ability to accurately identify the problem through expanded research.”

Ragin recently co-authored a report that found gaps in epidemiology, clinicopathology, genetics, and molecular classification of breast cancer in the Caribbean, and has been advocating for increased training to fill these critical research needs. That work relies heavily on platforms including ZOOM, WhatsApp, and YouTube to facilitate ongoing training, mentoring, and supervision of health care researchers and providers.

“Communication and data technologies are effective and cost-effective for building and sustaining international cancer prevention and control research in low and middle-income countries. We have found several apps and platforms to be useful in building capacity for basic, translational, clinical, and behavioral research,” Ragin said.

In 2006 Ragin founded the African Caribbean Cancer Consortium (AC3), whose purpose is to investigate and respond to increasing cancer vulnerability among African-descended populations worldwide. The group is in the process of establishing a Caribbean Regional Center of Research Excellence in partnership with the University of the West Indies-Mona in Jamaica. It is the planned first step toward developing a broader network of Caribbean centers of excellence, which will grow to address diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

A poster describing this work and the technologies that enable it will be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019 in Atlanta on Tuesday, April 2.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence five consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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