Hundreds of residents of Washington Heights and Inwood got free cancer screening and learned about the latest developments in cancer research at Health Information Day, a community event sponsored by the Community Engagement Core Resource of the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Columbia University.
Columbia cancer researchers met with local Washington Heights and Inwood residents at CUMC's Health Information Day.
“The cancer center at Columbia exists for the benefit of the people here in our local community,” said Stephen Emerson, MD, director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, during the event. “Please know that this is only a beginning. In the next few years we will continue to engage and build really strong outreach programs that assist all the families in our community get the best care possible.”
Free screening for skin and oral cancer was available during the event, free at-home colon cancer screening kits were distributed, and referrals for low-cost mammograms were provided.
Community organizations, including NYP’s Redes en Acción and Latin Faces Cancer Foundation, provided education and information on support services for people newly diagnosed and their families.
And Columbia cancer researchers presented the latest findings from their studies – studies that often enroll patients from the community or are designed to improve the care of community residents diagnosed with cancer.
“Two years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, and I told myself I would dedicate my life to educating my community. This event is a way to tell them that there is hope out there,” said Fary De León, the executive director of Latin Faces, which works with CUMC’s Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research to promote participation of Latinos in cancer research. “I’m so happy to see that the cancer center, Columbia and NYP are joining with the community to help beat cancer.”
Increasing cancer screening rates – Washington Heights and Inwood have some of the lowest in New York City – will be critical to the fight, according to Rafael Lantigua, MD, professor of clinical medicine and co-director of community engagement at Columbia.
The event, by allowing the community to make personal connections with the doctors and researchers of the cancer center, should encourage more residents to come in for screening and participate in studies, he added.
“These are the faces of the cancer center,” Lantigua told the crowd. “And together with you, we can work to reducing the burden of cancer.”