Skip to main content
researchers in lab

South Texas Cancer Burden and COE Areas of Work

The cancer burden in South Texas is unique. The challenges people face in accessing care and achieving good outcomes are the basis of our Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) areas of work.

Researchers from Mays Cancers Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, are changing cancer’s impact through community outreach and engagement.

We’ve spent years learning about how cancer affects the people of South Texas. This information helps us engage with our community in meaningful ways to reduce it.

South Texas Cancer Burden

Mays Cancer Center cares for patients from a 38-county region that runs south from San Antonio to the Texas-Mexico border. Our experience treating patients across all stages of cancer, along with our novel research, provides important insights into the disease’s burden in our community.

The unique ways cancer affects people in South Texas include:

  • Our region is predominantly (69%) Latino. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Latinos in Texas.
  • Our region has a disproportionately high incidence of gastric and liver cancers compared to Texas and the nation.
  • Childhood and adolescent leukemia rates are significantly higher in South Texas than in the rest of the state.
  • More than one-third (38%) of adults in the region are obese, and approximately 16% of adults are current smokers. These factors increase cancer risk at a population level.
  • About 15% of people in South Texas do not have insurance, making it difficult for them to access care.
  • Many residents are not aware of cancer screening guidelines and do not follow current cancer prevention recommendations.

Areas of Work

To maximize our impact on reducing the cancer burden in South Texas, our efforts focus on four primary areas of work.

They include:

Cancer prevention

We are taking steps to prevent cancer through culturally appropriate efforts that include:

  • Continuous cancer surveillance and risk factor monitoring
  • Promotion of tobacco cessation, obesity management and HPV vaccination
  • Healthy lifestyle practices
  • Policy-driven and systemic changes 

Early cancer detection

We are educating the community about cancer screening options. These efforts include:

  • Developing and disseminating culturally competent, evidence-based cancer information tailored to the needs of underserved communities
  • Partnering with academic, clinical and community organizations to provide education about screening guidelines and risk factors

Cancer treatment

Community outreach and engagement efforts are increasing access to cancer treatment by:

  • Building a team of culturally competent patient navigators and community health workers to provide support in clinic settings
  • Providing integrated, patient-centered cancer care

Increasing quality of life for cancer survivors

Our team is improving cancer survivors’ quality of life by:

  • Helping patients and providers access and utilize survivorship care plans
  • Increasing referrals to cancer rehabilitation services
  • Raising awareness of Mays Cancer Center fitness and wellness services