COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND ENGAGEMENT ? ABSTRACT Among all states Oklahoma has the 7th highest overall cancer mortality rate, and it ranks 2nd in cancer incidence and mortality rates among the 15 states currently without an NCI-designated cancer center. Significant cancer health disparities exist for Oklahoma's large rural, American Indian (AI) and other underserved minority populations, driven by a host of related health risk and socioeconomic factors, including high rates of poverty, lack of insurance, obesity, tobacco use, poor dietary choices, etc. As Oklahoma's only academic cancer center, the SCC is uniquely positioned to lead efforts to decrease the state's cancer burden through facilitating scientific discovery and its translation into direct benefit to patients and the general public in the catchment area, which the SCC defines as the State of Oklahoma. A central resource in this effort is the SCC's Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) Core, the goals of which are: 1) to promote research on cancer-relevant issues specific to the catchment area, with emphasis on unique or unusual cancer incidence, the underserved rural and AI populations, and cancer health disparities; 2) to improve patient outcomes and raise the standard of cancer care in the catchment area through engaging populations, especially those underrepresented in research, in clinical trials; 3) to decrease cancer incidence and mortality rates in the catchment area through the development, implementation and evaluation of health policy; and 4) to partner with community-based entities with aligned missions and goals to extend the reach and leverage of SCC activities throughout the state for the widest catchment area impact. Under the direction of Mark Doescher, MD, MSPH, the SCC's Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement, the COE Core initiates collaborative research with the direct involvement of those communities affected by cancer health disparities in the catchment area. COE Core activities are closely linked with the research activities of the SCC's Cancer Prevention and Control (CPC), Gynecologic Cancers (GC) and Preclinical Translational Cancer Research (PTCR) programs, each of which has aims focused on addressing the cancer burden and cancer health disparities in the catchment area. Assisting him in this effort is Dorothy Rhoades, MD, MPH (an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe), who is the SCC's Director of AI Cancer Research Initiatives. Drs. Doescher and Rhoades collaborate closely with CPC program health disparities and tobacco researchers on community-engaged cancer research with tribal, rural and other underserved populations. They work with GC program members to engage tribal and rural health systems to increase the number of patients who participate in GC interventional trials. They support the PTCR program by establishing an environment of trust, facilitating biospecimen acquisition for genomic research in the AI population.
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