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SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.


Contact: Ted DeAdwyler
phone: (415) 338-1665

Breast cancer awareness month event

Statewide conference on improving breast, cervical cancer awareness among Asian American, Pacific Islander women at S.F. State on Oct. 27

More than 300 doctors, public health workers and cancer survivors to attend

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2001 - California's Asian American population outpaced every other ethnic group in the rate of growth during the 1990s but at the same time two disturbing health trends are becoming dangerously entrenched: Asian American and Pacific Islander women continue to experience the lowest breast cancer screening rates compared with other ethnic groups and face increasing overall mortality rates from cancer.

To develop stronger methods of saving lives among Asian American and Pacific Islander women, San Francisco State University's Department of Asian American Studies will sponsor a one-day statewide conference on breast and cervical cancer prevention among these women on Saturday Oct. 27, 2001 from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Seven Hills Conference Center on the campus.

The conference, which is open to the general public, is expected to attract more than 300 doctors, public health officials and cancer survivors from throughout California, home to four of every 10 Asian American and Pacific Islander women in America.

Grace Yoo, an assistant professor of Asian American Studies at S.F. State and a conference organizer, said the urgent message of early screenings isn't reaching many Asian American and Pacific Islander women. "We are seeing increasing mortality rates due to women and also to health providers thinking that breast cancer and cervical cancer doesn't happen to Asian or Pacific Islander women; that these are illnesses that are somehow limited to white women," said Yoo, a medical sociologist by training. "As a result, women may delay in getting lumps checked out by doctors."

Yoo, who studies breast cancer rates and Asian American women, said latest research shows that 30 percent of all Asian American and Pacific Islander women over the age of 40 have never had a mammogram. In addition, Vietnamese women are more than five times as likely to suffer from cervical cancer than white women.

"This conference is the perfect opportunity to gain the upper hand in the battle against cancer for Asian American and Pacific Islander women," said Mai Nhung Le, assistant professor of Asian American Studies at S.F. State and co-chair of the conference.

Le, an expert on women's health issues in the Vietnamese American community, said cancer recently became a personal issue in her family. Her older sister was diagnosed with a rare type of breast cancer. "My sister's battle with cancer allowed me to personally witness and experience the cultural, social, and structural challenges that she and my family encountered," Le said of her sister's survival against cancer. "We need to address these problems and introduce more effective programs and policies to pr event cancer among Asian and Pacific Islander women."

The conference, which will examine the issues surrounding diagnosing and treating breast and cervical cancer, includes sessions on challenges to cancer screening among Asian American and Pacific Islander women, innovative outreach strategies and survivorship issues. Keynote speakers will include Susan M. Shinagawa, founder of the Asian & Pacific Islander National Cancer Survivors' Network, and Marjorie Kagawa-Singer, associate professor of public health and Asian American Studies at UCLA.

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Note to editors: To reach Grace Yoo call (415) 338-3891 and to reach Mai Nhung Le call (415) 338-6161.

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Last modified April 24, 2007, by Office of Public Affairs