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April 8, 2002


The 6th Annual Health Disparities Community Conference Series: Emory Conference Aimed at Disparities in Cancer Rates in Georgia's African American Communities

Governor Roy Barnes, Commissioner Russ Toal, DeKalb County Health Director Dr. Paul Wiesner and Fulton County Health Director Dr. Adewalé Troutman are among the dignitaries scheduled to address participants at Emory Healthcare's 6th Annual Health Disparities Community Conference. This year's topic, "Cancer ... It Can Happen to You," will examine the disparities in cancer rates in Georgia's African-American communities and discuss strategies with provider and community-based partners with the intent to close the disparity gap.

The May 18 event will be held at the Holiday Inn Select Hotel in downtown Decatur from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Conference coordinators collaborated with Emory Healthcare, the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University and Governor Barnes' new initiative, the Georgia Cancer Coalition, to create the Cancers Disparities Committee. Don Speaks, Director of Community Affairs for Emory Healthcare and conference facilitator, invited healthcare professionals and other key leaders in communities of color to develop the conference agenda and to ensure that a commitment to addressing cancer disparity issues extended beyond the May 2002 conference.

"It's important that the conference agenda reflects a sound commitment to changing access to cancer treatment in disproportionately affected areas, that it fosters the development of community prevention and intervention programs and that we understand the barriers to improve health outcomes," Speaks says.

Specific issues to be discussed include prostate, colorectal and lung cancers in men, and breast, uterine and cervical cancers in women.

The upcoming Brothers Health Issues Conference has four main goals, Speaks outlined. The conference speakers will provoke dialogue about people's fears about cancer, attempt to eliminate myths about the disease, educate the participants about preventive methods for particular cancers, and discuss ways to make cancer treatment accessible for all who need it.

Workshops at the conference will focus on research, clinical trials, the vision of the Georgia Cancer Coalition, cancer screening and testing, and cancer's impact on youth.

"This is one of the most important conferences that the Winship Cancer Institute and Emory University will be involved in all year," said Jonathan Simons, MD, director of the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory. "Our ability to educate and inform people about cancer is as important as the research we conduct in our laboratories. This is what we mean when we talk about 'translational research.' It's our ability to take groundbreaking research from the laboratories and apply it to patients and their families through compassionate care and education."

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Georgia and Georgia ranks among the top five states in the number of new cancer cases each year. Each year, the Health Disparities Community Conference focuses on health issues that are pervasive in African-American communities. Past conferences have addressed HIV/AIDS, heart disease, prostate, youth violence and organ and tissue donation.

The event is co-sponsored by Emory Healthcare; The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University; The Georgia Cancer Coalition; Grady Health Systems; Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness; The D & E Group; DeKalb Preventive Alliance, Inc.; DeKalb County Health Department; and the Department of Community Health, State of Georgia.

The "Cancer ... It Can Happen to You," will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.. at the Holiday Inn Select Hotel in downtown Decatur. For more information about the conference, interested persons can call 404-778-3303. Registration can be completed via phone at (404) 778-7777 or on the conference Web site at

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