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Georgia Cancer Center training African American church leaders: How to reduce cancer

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)-- - Some community members learned about a topic Saturday that many want to avoid: Cancer. It all started with church leaders touring the Georgia Cancer Center and learning what all is there.

At least 50 churches were represented in this initiative to fight cancer: "The cancer center is a community resource for education, for prevention, early detection and treatment," Dr. Sharad Ghmande, Associate Director of clinical research at the Georgia Cancer Center, said. 

Representatives from the Georgia Cancer Center say education is key. That is why the center teamed with the 10th district's General Missionary Baptist Convention to share information about cancer disparities, prevention and care.

Dr. Ghande told us that less than 5 percent of people in our country participate in clinical trials, and even less minorities take part: "So if you come and ask me, why aren't you making progress? Well, it's just because we don't do enough work," Dr. Ghmande explained. 

Reverend Karlton Howard, president of the General Missionary Baptist Convention, is one of the many pastors who got trained to train: "Our ministry believes in holistic ministry, not just the spiritual part. The physical part is very important."

And in Georgia, the number one cause of cancer deaths among African Americans is lung cancer. "Their cancer death rates are also double whites for African American males," Martha Tingen, Investigator and Director of C-Care initiative explained. "...and for females, the same."

What it comes down to, Tingen expressed, is genetics. People respond to drugs differently based on ethnicity. That's why clinical trials and prevention awareness are so important. 

"Our trial portfolio from 2004-2017 shows that Caucasian women with advanced ovarian cancer do much better and live longer than African Americans," Dr. Ghmande told NewsChannel 6's Samantha Williams. "However, if they go on a clinical trial, that disparity in survival goes away and the survival is identical."

The Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University provides research and care to reduce cancer across the globe. To find out more about the facility, CLICK HERE


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