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Center for American Indian Health launches cancer initiative for Native communities in Southwest

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez
The Navajo Nation's Breast Cancer Awareness Month Fun Walk in October 2019.

News brief

Cancer rates are going down for most Americans – but not for Native people. They also have the lowest cancer survival rate of any racial group in the nation.

Now, a new program from the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health is taking aim at that problem. It wants to find ways to improve screening, diagnosis and treatment for several common cancers.

The center says a big part of the problem is that tribal lands are so vast. Transportation and access are barriers to screening and good care. Cultural taboos and stigma also can be issues. And clinics on reservations often lack treatment services.

The center’s program will focus on breast, colorectal and stomach cancers. It will start in Apache and Navajo communities, but the goal is to find solutions for any tribe.

The initiative is supported by an award from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I'm the managing editor of the Mountain West News Bureau, a regional public radio collaboration based at Boise State Public Radio. Being relatively new to the West, I'm fascinated by the range of issues here – from drought to wildfires, wolves to wild horses.