Latino Cancer Summit a 'resounding success'

July 31 - August 1, 2008. By all accounts, the first-ever national gathering of researchers and community members focused specifically on cancer in Latinos served as a ground-breaking event.

Billed as the inaugural National Latino Cancer Summit, the cutting-edge conference – Science Meets Service, Moving Forward Together – drew 325 registrants from across the United States to San Francisco. Participants included scientists, physicians, nurses, educators, community agency administrators, outreach workers, students, cancer survivors, and others.

In summary, the two-day Summit, sponsored by Latinas Contra Cáncer (LCC) and co-sponsored by Redes En Acción, was "a resounding success," said Ysabel Durón, Summit convener and LCC founder.

From participant evaluations and comments, as well as e-mail and letter correspondence after the event, the clear message from those in attendance was that "there is a future for the National Latino Cancer Summit," Durón said.

Much of the glowing feedback, she added, focused on the fact that the cancer discussions centered on Latinos.

"We heard an enthusiasm uncommon to these kinds of intellectual gatherings," said Durón "Much of the infectiousness and excitement resulted from turning a spotlight on Latino cancer issues."

The Summit packed considerable action into two days: seven keynote addresses and 14 panels with 62 panel participants and facilitators. In addition, there were five posters and 20 agency / institution / corporate expo tables. Conference participants came from 21 states and Costa Rica.

"The National Latino Cancer Summit was an extremely ambitious undertaking," said Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, Redes En Acción Principal Investigator. "I applaud Ysabel and everyone who participated in the planning and implementation for a wonderful job. This conference provided food for thought for all of us who are involved in the Latino cancer field."

Several Redes En Acción leaders participated in the event. In addition to Dr. Ramirez, who was a keynote speaker, Drs. Emilio Carrillo, Marynieves Díaz-Mendez, Eliseo Pérez-Stable and Elena Rios participated on workshop panels, and Drs. Gregory Talavera and Pérez-Stable served as panel facilitators.

Durón said the Summit met its preliminary goals – to bring together Latino researchers and community agencies and educators, create opportunities for networking and collaboration, and provide a Latino cancer snapshot. However, she added, the conference has already produced some "unexpected" early outcomes:

  • An oncologist from Washington state intends to try to create a promotora group in her community.
  • A researcher reported that, based on what she learned at the conference, she would be able to increase her research activities.
  • A Colorado promotora’s efforts to solicit testimonials from breast cancer survivors in her community before the Summit has resulted in a decision by those survivors to initiate a local support group.
  • Dr. Elmer Huerta, American Cancer Society Board President, said he would ask ACS to make the Summit a line item in its future budget.

From the polls, surveys and evaluations developed before, during and after the event, a Summit final report will be produced. In addition, a University of California, Berkeley Latino Student Task Force will develop a report based on on-site surveys collected by the group.