First Nation cancer study generating 'wider interest'
Budget for First Nation cancer study will limit scope of research — for now
The study is funded by Health Canada and will include several communities, among them are Northwest Angle 33 First Nation, Grassy Narrows (Asubpeeschoseewagong) and White Dog (Wabaseemoong) First Nation.
The lead researcher for the team said there is a possibility the study may grow in size.
"Now that the cancer study has been announced, there's been wider interest among First Nations communities," Howard Hu said.
"[As for] our ability to meet that wider interest — we'll try to do it as best we can within the limitations of the one-year budget we've been given," he said.
Hu, who is dean of the Dalla Lana school of public health at the University of Toronto, said the team will look specifically look at what environmental factors could be contributing to cancer rates.
"We can't accomplish that much with $200,000, so we are trying to be really be very clear with both our communities partners and Health Canada about what we'll be able to do with that amount," he continued.
"It's not even enough money, for instance, [to] measure environmental contaminants in people's bodies using blood samples, for example," he said. "It's not even enough to do clinical assessments or measure things like cancer bio markers. It's really a very preliminary step to assess what the true rates of cancer may be and look at the information that may be out there already."
Hu said the study will "validate if we have been able to capture the cancers of interest in the database we have."
The research will identify and train people who can solicit the names or contact information of people who have had cancer and find their records.
The research will focus on the Northwest Angle 33 First Nation — near the borders of Manitoba and the U.S. — where it is reported locally that a quarter of the community's residents have been diagnosed with cancer over the last few decades.