Native American Cancer Initiatives - Background
Native American Cancer Research Corporation (NACR) was created in 1999 as a community-based, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. It is an independent, stand-alone entity operating out of Pine, CO with a board of directors and three key staff. NACR
is recognized locally, regionally, nationally and internationally as a leader in providing culturally appropriate cancer education, navigation and support services to American Indians and Alaska Natives AI/ANs. It provides all services through
partnerships with AI organizations in Denver, tribal communities (urban, rural and reservation), and national organizations (Mayo Clinic, Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, American Cancer Society). Local partners include the Denver Indian Health and
Family Services (DIHFS) and the Denver Indian Center (DIC).
NACR is dedicated to preventing or reducing the risks for cancer through education and referral to health promotion programs (physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco control and reducing exposure to environmental contaminants) and cancer screening
and early detection services). NACR focused on improving the lives of Native American cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. It accomplished these foci by designing programs to meet the needs of Native Americans, also known as American
Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), facing cancer by implementing community-driven and community-based participatory service and research programs. NACR staff has worked directly with the AI/AN communities living in different states, including
but not limited to Colorado, Alaska, California, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, Florida and Georgia, in partnership with American Indian Tribes, Alaska Native villages, Indigenous urban programs and organizations. NACR continues to
develop and implement educational and service programs that are vital to improving the health of the AI/AN community in Colorado and the Nation. NACR provides services to AI/ANs throughout the Nation through the Memorial Fund and partnerships
with Tribes and Native organizations.
Federal grants (primarily through the National Institutes of Health) have funded 75% of NACR’s projects, research and programs since 1998 (i.e., one year prior to its incorporation for “Genetic Education for Native Americans” (GENA®) [PI: Burhansstipanov,
HG01866]). State, foundation and charity donations have funded the remaining 25%. NACR’s research projects have shown that there is a great need for culturally relevant and culturally specific education and support services for our communities
in Denver and nation-wide.
NACR is nationally recognized as a leader for culturally competent outreach, education and navigation to screening and support services. NACR staff have been working for three decades in cancer prevention and early detection. Since NACR’s inception,
staff has assisted more than 1,266 women living in the Greater Denver Metropolitan Area with breast health screening and follow-up care for all who had an abnormal finding. NACR also provided patient navigation services to AI/ANs diagnosed with
cancer who needed help. NACR employs navigators trained by NACR’s Native Patient Navigator Training and the Colorado Patient Navigator Training Program. NACR’s training includes culturally appropriate outreach methods, navigation, cancer screening
and cancer specific topics. NACR has completed multiple local (>30), state (8) and federal (25), research studies and projects on cancer outreach, education, and screening, building the evidence for effective strategies in Indigenous peoples.
NACR has produced >50 peer-reviewed articles to share research findings with both tribal and non-Native professionals and held multiple local, regional and national meetings to disseminate findings and results. With funding from NIH, Avon,
Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, and others, NACR developed, evaluated and validated prevention curricula designed for under-served populations including "Get on the Path to Health" for breast (2003), cervix (2006) and colon (2005) cancers, and clinical
trials curricula (Colorado Culturally Competent Clinical Cancer Care Curriculum (7Cs) [PI: Krebs; NCI R25 CA082714] and Clinical Trials Education for Native Americans, Cancer League of Colorado). NACR has completed multiple NIH studies focused
on prevention of cancer including: (1) Increasing Mammography for Urban AI Women [PI: Burhansstipanov, NCI R25 CA77665] (2) Walking Forward [PI: Petereit, 1U54CA142157 and 5U56CA099010] (3) Increasing Mammography Screening among Medically Underserved
Women [PI: Burhansstipanov, NCI R25 CA 96540], , (4) Walking Forward [PI: Petereit, 1U54CA142157 and 5U56CA099010 2 3 4 5 (5) Increasing Mammography Screening among Medically Underserved Women [PI: Burhansstipanov, NCI R25 CA 96540], 6 7 (6) Native
Navigators and the Cancer Continuum (NNACC) [PI: Burhansstipanov, R24MD002811]. As an example, NNACC was funded by the National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities, NIH. It was a community based participatory
research study among five organizations with the goal of improving AI’s health behavior to prevent or control cancer throughout the continuum of cancer care. NNACC included multiple series of 12 two-hour workshops conducted over a 3-month period
in each setting. Staff implemented the workshops, referred participants to cancer screenings, helped participants access local programs and resources and assisted with access quality cancer care. Interest and willingness to take part was much
greater than anticipated. A total of 1,964 participated. The intervention was effective regardless of the participants’ gender, age, race, and educational level.