IACAN Raises Cancer Awareness Through its Educational Seminar


From Left : Dr. V. K. Dorai, Snehal Desai,MD; Sunil Patel, MD; Shalin Shah, MD; Dr.Alejandro Chaoul, Dr. Beverly Gor, Kanchan Kabad, Gayathri Kongovi and Sarvesh Bhavaraju

The Rising Tide of Cancer Among Asian Indians”

By Gayathri Kongovi

HOUSTON: The Indian American Cancer Network  (IACAN) opened its 2014 series of outreach educational seminars on cancer with a thought provoking topic- “The Rising Tide of Cancer Among Asian Indians.” It was held at the India House on Sunday, February 16 from 3PM-5PM. The distinguished panel of speakers included Beverly Gor, EdD, Instructor, Center for Health Equity and Evaluation Research, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Sunil Patel M.D., Medical Oncologist, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Katy, TX, Alejandro Chaoul, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of Education, Integrative Medicine Program, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. To an audience of about 80 people, the panel of experts gave an overview of the increasing trend of cancer among Indian Americans, preventive steps through early screening, lifestyle changes and integrating practices like yoga and meditation.

As the first speaker of the seminar, Dr. Gor highlighted the fact that the Indian American community represents the second largest Asian group in the Houston Metropolitan area and continues to grow. Yet there is very little information about their health needs. The anecdotal evidence from the community indicates that cancer and other chronic diseases are increasing in this population. The ongoing South Asian Health Needs Assessment (SAHNA) survey conducted by IACAN in collaboration with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is important because it will help identify the cancer needs of the Asian Indian community in the Houston/Galveston area. With the results of the survey, programs can be developed to address their needs.

The second speaker, Dr. Patel gave a medical perspective of cancer and cancer prevention. He defined cancer as a group of more than 100 diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.  Up to two-thirds of cancer deaths are thought to be preventable. Cancer is something that develops many years after exposure. The decisions that we make now can affect our future health. Also, the habits that our children form today will affect the future of their health. His advice was: avoid tobacco and second hand smoke, eat healthy, incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Exercise, maintain a healthy weight, protect from the sun, limit or avoid alcohol consumption. Dr. Patel stressed on the importance of early screening tests to detect the cancer at an early stage. Early diagnosis has better prognosis and higher cure rate.

Dr. Chaoul, the third speaker described how our mind could heal the body.  Life stress can cause DNA damage and accelerated telomere shortening. A variety of mind-body practices like Yoga, Meditation and Tibetan Sound Meditation, have been designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. The scientific study is going on and the results are promising in reducing the risk for cancer and cancer survivorship.

Shalin Shah, M.D., a board member of IACAN moderated the seminar and the Q & A session.

In order to fund its programs IACAN will be hosting a Gala “ Celebrating Life” on April 19, 2014 at Houston Marriott Westchase located at 2900 Briarpark, Houston, TX. 77042.

The Indian American cancer Network (IACAN) is a cancer resource network that educates and supports the Indian American community.

For further information visit www.iacannetwork.org or call 713-370-3489