Persistent and Emerging Cancer Health Disparities and Racism Impacting Asian Americans

Monday, May 17, 2021
2:00-3:00pm EST

Watch a recording of the event here. 

Asian Americans comprise more than 30 national origins and 100 languages, with significant variation in historical context, immigration patterns, socioeconomic status, health behaviors, and access to care. The continuing practice of aggregating cancer statistics masks distinct disparities within specific Asian American ethnic populations, and further perpetuate the model minority stereotype. Cultural, language, and other access barriers have perpetuated disparities in these populations. Recent anti-Asian American discrimination and violence have shone a national spotlight on the consequential mental and physical harms.

This event will highlight research examining cancer incidence and mortality across Asian American ethnic groups and studies of lung cancer in Asian American women who have never smoked. The panel will also discuss the implications of structural racism and discrimination on cancer research, and highlight opportunities in cancer interventions and policies to reduce disparities.

Meet the Panel

Iona Cheng, PhD, MPH is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco and co-Investigator of the NCI SEER Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry. Her research is centered on examining the role of biological, lifestyle, environmental, and neighborhood factors in relation to cancer risk with an emphasis on understanding racial/ethnic differences in risk. She has conducted epidemiologic studies of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers within the Multiethnic Cohort Study and population-based cancer surveillance research across diverse populations. She co-led with Dr. Gomez the development of an electronic health record cohort to study lung cancer among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

Scarlett Gomez, PhD, MPH is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco and Director of the NCI SEER Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry. She is a leader in cancer epidemiologic studies among Asian American populations with a focus on the role of multi-level social determinants in cancer health inequities. She has contributed surveillance data regarding cancer incidence and outcome patterns and trends for diverse racial/ethnic groups, as well as cancer patterns by nativity status and neighborhood characteristics. She developed the California Neighborhoods Data System, a compilation of small-area level data on social and built environment characteristics, and has used these data in more than several dozen funded studies to evaluate the impact of social and built neighborhood environment factors on disease outcomes.

Tung Nguyen, MD is the Stephen J. McPhee, MD Endowed Chair in General Internal Medicine and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he provides primary care to a diverse patient population and teaches students, clinicians, and researchers. He is Director of the Asian American Research Center on Health (ARCH), Co-Leader of the Cancer Control Program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Co-Investigator in the Center for Aging in Diverse Communities. Dr. Nguyen’s research focuses on achieving health equity using community-based participatory research (CBPR), patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR), and other stakeholder-engaged methods. He has conducted intervention research with diverse populations on breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening as well as tobacco control, hepatitis B and C screening, nutrition and physical activity, and end-of-life care.
As a UCSF School of Medicine Dean’s Diversity Leader in the Differences Matter Initiative, Dr. Nguyen leads the Research Action Group for Equity (RAGE), whose aim is to diversify research participants, staff, and faculty at UCSF. Dr. Nguyen is a Principal Investigator of SFBUILD, an NIH-funded partnership between UCSF and San Francisco State University to promote healthcare and health research workforce diversity. He is the Leader of the Integrating Special Populations Core of the UCSF Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), which assist UCSF researchers to increase the participation of racial/ethnic minorities in health research. Dr. Nguyen currently co-chairs the UCSF Office of Research Task Force on Equity and Anti-Racism.
Dr. Nguyen was Commissioner on President Barack Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) from 2011 to 2014 and Chair of the Commission from 2014 to 2017. He has founded two 501c4 non-profit advocacy organizations, AAPI Progressive Action and PIVOT-The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization

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