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A groundbreaking research project conducted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), the University at Buffalo and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has become the springboard for a new health and wellness resource in the Cataract City.

The Cancer 101 Information Drop-In Center, located in the 18th Street Resource Center on Linwood Avenue at 18th Street, opened today and is designed to provide city residents with accessible information regarding the prevention, early detection and successful treatment of cancer. Educational resources will be available at the center and a community health advocate will be on hand every Tuesday afternoon to answer questions and present relevant educational programming.

The center is a joint effort by RPCI and Memorial Medical Center in space made available by the City of Niagara Falls.

"Through this collaboration, we will REACH the community by becoming a part of the community," said Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo, who noted that REACH is an acronym for Resources, Education, Access, Collaboration and Health. "Working together with the team at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, we will provide the information and resources the community needs to promote a healthy lifestyle that avoids the controllable risk factors for cancer."

The genesis of the Cancer 101 Information Drop-In Center was a National Institutes of Health-funded study conducted by RPCI, the University at Buffalo and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

Titled "Keys to Research Participation," the study was led by Deborah Erwin, Ph.D., and analyzed the effect of educational interventions on the willingness of people from underserved populations, mainly those of low socio-economic status, to participate in research projects.

Dr. Erwin, the director of Roswell's Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research, presented the results of that research at today's announcement.

"A key component of this very timely study was the offering of culturally appropriate, non-threatening educational intervention to medically underserved populations that had traditionally avoided participating in health studies requiring the collection of blood or saliva specimens to promote the research," Dr. Erwin said. "After providing that education, we found people from those groups were more willing to participate in research studies -- without any additional incentive."

Charles Walker, Memorial's director of community outreach and one of the authors of the study, said the findings made it clear that information clearinghouses such as the one announced today will play a key role in addressing the disparity of medical care in underserved populations.

"Research is indispensable in helping doctors treat cancer and other diseases," Walker said. "We know members of the minority community are often reluctant to participate in the research needed to identify effective cancer treatment. The Cancer 101 Information Drop-In Center will encourage prevention, early detection and treatment, as well as research participation."

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Dec. 20, 2011