To address cancer health disparities in the region, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is launching the Center for Advancing Cancer Health Equity, which will conduct community-engaged research and interventions using multi-level approaches.
The new center will build on the progress made to date in reducing health disparities, particularly through the cancer center’s population sciences and health disparities research programs along with the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement.
“We need to continue to address the root causes of cancer health disparities,” said UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Primo “Lucky” Lara, Jr. “Avoiding or surviving cancer should not depend on your zip code and that’s why we have established the Center for Advancing Cancer Health Equity, because everyone deserves an equal chance at a healthy life.”
The new center will be at the forefront of culture change regarding health equity at UC Davis and beyond.
“The ultimate goal is to achieve cancer health equity for all communities living in central and northern California,” said Luis Carvajal-Carmona, founding director of the new center. “The concerted efforts of the Center for Advancing Cancer Health Equity will not only contribute to improved health outcomes in our underserved populations but will also result in a body of work that will influence cancer-related policy decisions at the county, state, and national levels.”
Simultaneously, the new center will make important contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence by promoting and supporting the careers of women, people of color, and those from other underrepresented groups at UC Davis.
“We cannot achieve health equity if our clinicians, scientists, staff, and trainees do not reflect the racial/ethnic and socio-economic background of the patients and communities we serve,” said Carvajal-Carmona, who was also recently appointed as the cancer center’s chief diversity officer and who will oversee a new Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Cancer health outcomes are not equal across populations. Rural residents and communities of color face numerous challenges that nearly always increase their cancer burden. Cancer health disparities are the differences in cancer incidence and outcomes between population groups. They’re impacted by social determinants such as:
- Socio-economic/education/income level
- English language fluency/culture
- Access to adequate, affordable health care
- Availability of fresh produce and other healthy food
- Lifestyle behaviors
- Genetic susceptibility
- Surrounding environment (i.e., exposure to pollution or pesticides)
The new center will support these key areas by generating knowledge and identifying barriers that help our policymakers, stakeholders and communities implement better and more targeted cancer education, prevention and treatment efforts.