Fighting Cancer in Wisconsin’s American Indian Communities

Building the capacity of Wisconsin’s rural and urban American Indian communities and clinics to enhance the quality of life for cancer patients and families

Full Project Name:Fighting Cancer in Wisconsin’s American Indian CommunitiesPrimary Community Organization:Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology CenterPrimary Academic Partner:J. Frank Wilson, MD, Radiation OncologyAward Amount:$200,000
Award Date
January2012
Project Duration:30 months

Project Description Narrative:


The burden of cancer has increased for American Indian populations over the past 20 years. Today, cancer is the second leading cause of death for American Indians over the age of 45. Moreover, American Indians continue to have one of the poorest survival rates from all cancers combined.

Through this award, project partners aim to empower participating clinics to enhance the quality of life for cancer patients and families by improving the public health capacity of clinicts to track data regarding cancer occurence in their populations, and develop culturally appropriate cancer programs and services to patients and their families. Community partners:
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Red Cliff Community Health Center, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, UW Spirit of EAGLES, Wisconsin Cancer Council, Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System, Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, Wisconsin Department of Health Services-Division of Public Health

Additional MCW academic partner:
Elaine Drew, PhD, Family and Community Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Identified the cultural, community, and clinical contexts of cancer knowledge, communication, and care at partner sites, conducting in-depth interviews with adults who have survived cancer or have a loved one who has had cancer to obtain perspectives on assets and barriers to timely cancer prevention and use of treatment services

• Developed, piloted, and evaluated a timely, accurate, routine and reciprocal reporting process for use by the Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System and the Red Cliff health clinic, establishing revisions to software, training staff, and identifying opportunities for ongoing future improvements

• Documented significant improvement in cancer screening rates from March 2011-March 2013, recording an increase in breast cancer screening rates from 20% to 60%, colorectal cancer screening rates from 12% to 42%, and cervical cancer screening rates from 30% to 42%

• Developed a 32-minute documentary film, "Red Cliff Cancer Stories," sharing the cancer experiences of Red Cliff community members and distributed to Native CIRCLE, a national resource center for American Indian/Alaska Native-specific educational materials on cancer

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