News Release

Thursday, October 1, 2009

United States and Four Latin American Countries Partner to Battle Cancer

The United States National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, formalized bilateral partnerships this week with the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Uruguay, to accelerate progress against cancer in Hispanic populations in the United States and Latin America and improve cancer research.

John E. Niederhuber, M.D., NCI director, representing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, signed formal letters of intent to collaborate in cancer research efforts. These countries, along with Chile (which signed a letter of intent in June) and the United States, comprise the United States-Latin America Cancer Research Network (US-LA CRN), which is committed to developing a comprehensive understanding of the cancer burden among Hispanic populations in Latin America and the United States and to enhance the cancer research and care infrastructures in both regions of the hemisphere.

"The coming together of nations today is certainly symbolic of our common commitment to advance cancer research, but it is much more. Understanding why certain cancers are more prevalent in certain countries and why immigration patterns may affect cancer's burden will be crucial," said Niederhuber. "By electronically linking cancer research data, cancer researchers in Latin America and the United States will be able develop new knowledge of cancer trends — from individual communities to large populations."

Spearheaded by NCI's Office of Latin American Cancer Program Development, this partnership will support the co-development of programs in three broad scientific areas: cancer research and clinical trials; multinational and multidisciplinary training programs; technology and capacity building. The Latin American countries and the United States will link their research efforts through the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid, an information network enabling the US-LACRN members to share data and knowledge. The network participants will also initiate pilot projects to expand research efforts and improve the delivery of cutting-edge cancer treatments to patients in the United States and Latin America.

"This network is tremendously important to our nation," said Lino Barañao, Ph.D., minister of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, Argentina. "One of our main goals is to translate discoveries and new information from basic and clinical research to enhance technology platforms and ultimately save lives."

"Leveraging and sharing our resources across the network will help us develop strategies for better access to mammography and enhance existing tumor and DNA banks and cancer information systems throughout Brazil," said Luiz Antonio Santini, M.D., director general, National Cancer Institute, Brazil. "We are pleased to be a part of a vast network that will help us improve progress in the fight against cancer in Brazil, while benefiting our fellow Latin American countries and Hispanic/Latino populations in the United States."

In Latin America, cancer is among the top three deadliest diseases, and its incidence in these countries continues to rise. Cancer also takes a large toll on Hispanic/ Latino populations in the United States. It is estimated that the U.S. Hispanic population will climb to nearly 60 million and represent approximately 19 percent of the U.S. population by 2020. Reducing the burden of cancer in the United States and abroad will depend heavily on understanding and controlling cancer in this population.

Maria Julia Muñoz, M.D., minister of Public Health, Uruguay, stated, "Establishing a national network of tumor banks and enhancing research training in bioethics is vitally important to enhancing our understanding of cancer at the molecular level so that we can translate discoveries to improve clinical care."

For the first pilot project of this collaboration, the countries identified research concepts that are intended to improve breast cancer management in Latin America. At the same time, they will provide an opportunity to enhance research training, capacity building, and establishment of a sustainable clinical research infrastructure for future projects. The effort builds on collaborative resources among the countries as well as co-sponsorships of workshops and conferences with domestic and international foundations and organizations to support cancer research in Latin America.

"Breast cancer is one of the top causes of cancer deaths in Mexico and the United States," said Alejandro Mohar Betancourt, M.D., director general, National Cancer Institute, Mexico. "Developing a population-based cancer registry and enhancing breast cancer detection and referral, as well as improving the accessibility of mammography and increasing the number of trained personnel, are major priorities for us. We are committed to sharing best practices developed as part of the United States-Latin America Cancer Research Network and reducing the global burden of cancer."

For more information about NCI's Office of Latin American Cancer Program Development, please go to

To view a Spanish translation of this release, please go to

For photos and b-roll video from the signings, please contact the NCI press office at (301) 496-6641 or

Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, Argentina: The Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation was created in December of 2007 by president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. It has among its guidelines contributing, through science and technology to the economical, social and cultural development of the country. To achieve this, the Ministry has selected three platforms — biotechnology, nanotechnology and ICT — whose growth will allow Argentina to specifically solve problems in four sectors such as health, energy, agriculture and society. Please visit

Instituto Nacional de Câncer (INCA), Brazil: The National Cancer Institute (INCA) of the Ministry of Health plays multiple roles in all areas of cancer prevention and control in Brazil — prevention, epidemiological surveillance, treatment, information, education and research.

As a technical branch of the Federal Government, under the direct administration of the Ministry of Health, the Institute delivers cancer care through five hospital units within the National Public Health Care System (SUS). Moreover, it formulates and coordinates public policies, develops research activities and disseminates practices and knowledge on medical oncology.

INCA has a wide variety of collaborations with national and international institutions and organizations, such as NCI, American Cancer Society, BC Cancer Agency of Canada, UICC, WHO, IARC among others. Please visit

Instituto Nacional de Cancerologia, Mexico: The Instituto Nacional de Cancerología de México is a national referral center for cancer patients. It is located in Mexico City and provides medical care for adult patients with cancer, training of medical fellows in all oncological disciplines, and develops clinical, basic and translational research. On a daily basis, a total of 700-750 patients are seen in the outpatient clinic. This institute is highly equipped, including conformal-radiotherapy, CT-scan, PET-CT, micropet, laparascopy units, a microarray lab, etc. The INCan has a wide variety of collaborations with national and international medical institutions and organizations, such as MD Anderson, Harvard University, Instituto Catalán de Oncología, American Cancer Society, Lance Armstrong Foundation, UICC, among others.

Ministry of Public Health, Uruguay: Please visit the ministry's Web site at for more information.

NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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