Education is a key component of the Georgia Cancer Center’s mission to reduce the burden of cancer in Georgia. It’s why the Georgia Cancer Center and the c-CARE Initiative are collaborating with the General Missionary Baptist Convention (GMBC) of Georgia’s Tenth District to share information about cancer disparities, cancer prevention, early detection, clinical trials, care navigation, and other resources available with our community at large.
“The most important part of a cancer diagnosis is knowledge,” said Dr. Martha Tingen, principal investigator and program director of the Cancer Community Awareness, Access, Research, and Education (c-CARE) Initiative. “You need to know your risk factors, how to prevent a cancer diagnosis and what steps you need to take if you are diagnosed.”
Tingen, Dr. Sharad Ghamande, associate director of Clinical Research, and Christine O’Meara, director of the Office of Cancer Awareness and Information, are working with GMBC leadership to create content for church leaders and members of nearly 150 churches. The idea is to build bridges with the community and inform the congregations about community-related programs, research and resources so they get to know the Georgia Cancer Center as a neighbor and part of the community where they live.
Tingen will discuss the c-CARE program, which partners with churches in the Augusta area to educate congregations about lung cancer and early detection through participation in low dose CT screening. Because smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, church members who smoke are encouraged to enroll in the Georgia Cancer Center’s Tobacco Cessation Program that Tingen directs.
Ghamande will share information about how the Georgia Cancer Center works to make sure African-Americans and others living in rural parts of Georgia have access to participate in clinical trials. Across the nation, less than five percent of all cancer patients have the opportunity to enroll in clinical trials. Of those, less than five percent are minorities. The Georgia Cancer Center and teams from five other medical centers across the state were tasked by National Cancer Institute to create strategies to increase the number of minorities enrolling in clinical trials.
“Promoting awareness in the availability of access to clinical trials is also an integral part of trying to make a difference in the community,” Ghamande said. “The more patients we recruit, the more data we’ll collect, which could lead to better results for the trial and more effective treatments for patients in general and African Americans, in particular.”
The goal is to share information with church pastors and other leaders that can be shared with their congregation, their family and their friends who are have been diagnosed with cancer or are at risk of developing the disease, to reinforce cancer prevention, and to make educational resources available.
“A key part of the churches in the General Missionary Baptist Convention is to provide information our congregations can use to improve their health and the health of those they care about,” said Rev. Karlton Howard, president of the GMBC Tenth District. “We are excited to learn how the Georgia Cancer Center can play a role in helping those members who have been diagnosed with this terrible disease.”