Partnerships dedicated to intensifying cancer research as it relates to Latin American populations were recently forged between the United States and four Latin American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay.
The partnerships serve to greatly expand the United States-Latin America Cancer Research Network (US-LA CRN), an international program created by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
NCI director John E. Niederhuber, M.D., who acted on behalf of the U.S. government by signing letters of intent “to collaborate in cancer research efforts”, formalized the partnerships. The four Latin American countries, along with previous partner Chile, will join forces with the United States to gain an improved understanding of cancer prevalence and cancer deaths in Latin America.
Dr. Niederhuber sees the coalition as more than just a symbolic stance against cancer. As he states, “by electronically linking cancer research data, cancer researchers in Latin America and the United States will be able develop new knowledge of cancer trends — from individual communities to large populations.”
The US-LA CRN lists three fundamental goals of this partnership:
1. Improve the knowledge base of cancer research, burden of disease and cancer care infrastructures in Latin American countries
2. Foster partnerships across Latin American countries to enhance cancer research efforts
3. Improve necessary resources for cancer treatment and research within Latin American countries
Both U.S. and Latin American officials expressed hope that this partnership would result in improved cancer research as it pertains to Latin populations. With a centralized database of DNA banks and cancer information systems, researchers in all participating countries will have access to a larger pool of data for research purposes.
Pilot programs for the US-LA CRN will focus on breast cancer management, as well as improving research training and building long-term clinical research infrastructure.
Cancer is one of the top three deadliest illnesses in Latin America. Given the high population of Latin Americans in the United States, the U.S. sees such a coalition as an important step in future cancer management. Some estimates predict that 60 million Hispanics will be living in the U.S. by 2020 – a number that would comprise 19 percent of the nation’s total population.