News Release

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

United States and the Republic of Chile Partner to Battle Cancer

A new alliance between the United States National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Chile.

A new alliance between the United States National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Chile, aims to accelerate progress against cancer in Hispanic populations in the United States and Latin America.

The alliance endeavors to strengthen and expand cooperation in a broad range of mutual interests, emphasizing basic and clinical cancer research, bioinformatics, data systems and informatics, and transfer of technology. Also, the nations seek to develop competencies and training of researchers by sharing technology and expertise. Further, the partners will work to enhance already existing cancer registries and execution of early phase clinical studies with cultural sensitivity.

In 2006, cancer was estimated to be the second leading cause of death in Chile. Each year, 36,500 new cases are diagnosed. Cancer mortality rates for Chilean males are highest in stomach, lung and prostate cancers, while for Chilean females the highest mortality rates are in gallbladder, breast, and stomach cancers.

Acknowledging this problem, on June 16, 2009, Chilean Undersecretary of Public Health Jeanette Vega, M.D., Dr.P.H., representing the Ministry of Health of Chile, and John E. Niederhuber, M.D., NCI director, representing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), signed a letter of intent where both institutions will work under a collaborative agreement to advance cancer research that meets the needs of Chile and the United States.

"We’re eager to work with the United States on this very important effort," said Vega. "Chile and the U.S. have much to share in the area of cancer. We can share our longstanding experience in the area of gallbladder cancer and the U.S. can share their knowledge in the area of breast cancer. The key to be able to advance globally in these areas is to collaborate, collaborate and collaborate."

"Cancer knows no borders and we must conquer this disease globally. This new partnership holds great promise to facilitate science that elucidates why cancer so often affects patients of different ethnicities and nationalities in unique ways, such as the high prevalence of stomach and gallbladder cancer in Chile," Niederhuber said. "We’re eager to work with Chile on this very important effort."

This cooperative effort may include promoting the exchange of technical information and research materials, development of collaborative research projects, reciprocal access to laboratories, databases and research repositories, visits of professional specialists or experts, training activities and collaborative forums such as seminars, workshops, symposiums and conferences.

The Republic of Chile joined four other Latin American countries and the United States in this unique collaboration — the United States-Latin America Cancer Research Network — which will support high-quality cancer research and care in Latin America. This network is responsible for developing a comprehensive understanding of the burden of cancer and the current status of the research and care infrastructures in Latin America. In addition to Chile, the network includes Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, and the United States.

The first collaborative pilot project of the United States-Latin America Cancer Research Network will focus on breast cancer because it is among the deadliest cancers in each of the five participating Latin American countries. The alliance will conduct research on those cancers that have the greatest impact on Latin America.

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

The mission of the Ministry of Health of Chile is to strengthen the national medical care network, reduce health risks, and improve the health of the Chilean population. The goal is to promptly identify the needs of individuals, families and communities, and to keep citizens updated while promoting and protecting their rights. The vision of the Ministry of Health is for individuals, families and communities to participate in creating a healthier lifestyle that benefits everyone. Chileans will live in clean environments and will have access to prompt, fair, quality medical attention in which they feel safe and protected.

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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