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Our Community Outreach and Engagement Impact

Community Outreach and Engagement efforts reduce the cancer burden in South Texas by increasing cancer awareness. Our efforts include education, facilitating the availability of services and supporting care advances for the people we serve. This work also ensures our research priorities align with the unique ways that cancer affects our community.

Community Outreach and Engagement at Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, extends the reach of our research and elevates the level of cancer care.

We address health disparities by improving cancer awareness and access to screenings, care and clinical trials for eligible patients. We work alongside community partners to share information and insights.

About the cancer burden and health disparities in South Texas

For many people in South Texas, health education and cancer services are not easily accessible. Of the 38 counties we serve, 25 are rural. Twenty-four of these rural counties have been designated as primary care health shortage areas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

These factors make it difficult for people to access cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship services. Find out more about the South Texas cancer burden and what we are doing to address it.

Our community outreach and engagement activities

Community outreach and engagement activities distinguish centers such as ours that receive an NCI designation

Our initiatives address: 

Research priorities 

We adjust our research agenda to align with the community’s greatest needs. For example, breast cancer is often detected at a younger age in Hispanic women. Hispanic women also have a higher prevalence of aggressive triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). 

Mays Cancer Center researchers are exploring new care options using antidepressants as part of TNBC treatment. We have completed early studies demonstrating how an approved antidepressant inhibits the growth and spread of TNBC. Learn more about our Experimental and Developmental Therapeutics program.

Health policy and modifiable risk factors for lung cancer

We played a key role in limiting tobacco sales to teenagers and young adults in our community to address the high incidence of lung cancer across all races and ethnicities. A 2018 ordinance, San Antonio Tobacco 21, raises the minimum age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21 years old. 

We also piloted Quitxt, a text message-based smoking cessation program, in primary care practices. Messages in English and Spanish give participants helpful recommendations on how to quit smoking. Initial results have been positive, and we’re looking to expand the program to more patients.

Find out more about Quitxt. Or view Quitxt program information in Spanish.

Liver cancer in rural and underserved communities

We are addressing the high incidence of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC) and its precursor, hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In partnership with UT Southwestern Medical Center and area health education centers (AHECs), we are raising awareness through the Screen, Treat, or Prevent (STOP) HCC program.

STOP HCC provides educational programming to clinicians and clinic staff about preventing HCV and HCC. Primary care practices serving low-income populations now screen for and manage chronic HCV infection in at-risk populations. 

Minority participation in clinical trials

Since 2012, Mays Cancer Center has been taking steps to increase the representation of minorities in clinical trials. Our long-standing Clinical Trials Minority Accrual Committee develops strategies to address this issue. 

Recent efforts include adding bilingual Spanish clinical trial coordinators to care teams and educating physicians to raise awareness. We have seen marked improvements in minority accrual, specifically within the Hispanic population.

Get more information about cancer clinical trials and research.