Get Well Wednesday: Dr. Lucile Adams-Campbell Seeks Top-Notch Care for the Underserved

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    Charity begins at home and Dr. Lucile Adams-Campbell got the message, loud and clear.

    The native Washingtonian, and lifelong resident, has devoted her career to identifying health disparities in her hometown, which has some of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation, according to the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown Hospital.

    Adams-Campbell, the associate director for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research, has been working with the Center to improve research, community outreach and education for under-served communities. Those efforts led to her being named director of the Lombardi’s Capital Breast Care Center in southeast D.C., which provides free mammograms to uninsured or under-insured women.

    Last year, Adams-Campbell was the chief investigator for a $405,000 Susan G. Komen for the Cure research grant to train investigators and researchers at the Lombardi Center who are looking into research and health care disparities in minority communities.

    “Many important issues in the study of the growth and biology of cancer have been defined, and the basic mechanisms underlying these phenomena are being explored,” Komen’s board said in announcing the grant.

    “Unfortunately, the extension of these findings to explain cancer risk and drug response in underrepresented minority (URM) populations has been slower and has lagged behind the research of these phenomena in the overall population. This lag is partially due to the separate training and perspectives of cancer researchers involved in clinical studies and those engaged in disparities research. It has become apparent that these trainees must have a multifaceted approach, which needs special emphasis and focus in disparities research.”

    Adams-Campbell’s focus will be on prevention and studies that track patterns of disease that may provide clues to better prevention and treatment. For example, many clinical studies exclude patients with a history of diabetes, stroke, or smoking, which leaves out many minorities.

    “As members of the Georgetown community, we have an obligation to reach the members of the community who can best be impacted by what we do in science here,” Adams-Campbell said on the Center’s website. “Sometimes, this means we not only invite them to come to us, but also that we go to them.”

    Adams-Campbell is more than an interested party. A leader in her field, having led several large cohort studies of African American women including a major role in the Boston University Black Women’s Health Study, the largest study of African American women, Adams-Campbell has been elected to the Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the field of health and medicine.

    Adams-Campbell said she focuses on diet and exercise as preventive measures, especially in controlling obesity, diabetes and heart disease, because they are “big issues in the D.C. community and the [black] community at large everywhere” that impact breast, colon and prostate cancers, which have some of the highest mortality rates in the black American community.

    “I would love to really build a community-based, participatory research program that’s established in the community, engaging community to address these problems.”

    My breasts are painful. Can they give a sedative before the mammogram procedure?
    Take pain reliever like Motrin or Alleve 1 hour before mammogram.

    Can teens get breast cancer. If so, what are the signs?
    Very rare but signs would be a hard breast mass and changes in skin color and nipple discharge.

    My niece was diagnosed with a chronic breast disease. What is that? Where does it come from?
    Probably inflammatory breast disease but must rule out cancer.  Antibiotics or steroids may be necessary for treatment.

    Two out of the three last mammograms found calcification and had to be removed. Is this a sign of pending breast cancer?
    Multiple biopsies increase risk so make sure you continue to get mammograms regularly

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