Abstract: Native American Health Disparities and "Native Navigators and the Cancer Continuum"

Cancer among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) is becoming a growing concern. Although those American Indians who live in the southwest region of the United States and Alaska Natives continue to experience low cancer incidence rates compared with whites, African Americans, Asians and other races, within the last few generations, cancer has become the leading cause of death for Alaska Native women and is the second leading cause of death among American Indian women. Within the last 30 years, cancer has become the third leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives of all ages and is the second leading cause of death among American Indians older than 45 years of age.

A variety of psychosocial and cultural barriers and beliefs impact American Indians and how they might perceive the issue of cancer in their lives. Healthcare professionals caring for a Native American with cancer and their family members need to be apprised of these issues, which may affect the rapport between the provider and patient. Yet, until recently, few culturally acceptable materials were available, and there continues to be a need to develop resource materials for Native American women and other audiences interested in reducing cancer morbidity and mortality among Native Americans.

This session will provide a brief overview of health equity versus equality; an excerpt of current American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) cancer and disparity data; a summary of how the burden of cancer impacts AI/AN patients, family and community; and an overview of the Native Navigators and the Cancer Continuum (NNACC) study and intervention.