Campaign launched to inform Hispanics about early cancer screenings

June 13, 2018 GMT

A public campaign for early cancer detection among Hispanics started in 16 U.S. cities including Houston and San Antonio on Monday.

The campaign, a collaboration from the Azteca America, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Hispanic Advisory Council of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, urges people to “don’t wait” to get cancer screenings.

“Hispanics are succumbing to cancer at an alarming rate and we are truly humbled to be working with both Azteca America and the USHCC to alter that truth,” said Dr. Elena Rios, president of the National Hispanic Medical Association and chair of the advisory council. “If the ¡No Esperes! movement can help change behaviors and inspire Hispanics to learn more about their family health history, pursue regular checkups and get screened for cancer, we will have collectively made a positive impact.”

As part of the ¡No Esperes! (Don’t Wait!) campaign, Azteca America, a U.S.-based Spanish-language television network, will air public service announcements promoting screening, awareness, and early detection on the network’s popular shows including “Venga la Alegria,” “Ventaneando” and “Al Extremo.” The 30-second PSAs are now running on all Azteca America Spanish language stations in Houston (KYAZ) and San Antonio.

The campaign’s goal is to create a national movement that will help change Hispanic health care behavior, officials said.

“Because cancer is so pervasive in our community, it touches nearly everyone in one way or another. Among many small Hispanic-owned businesses, the family and the business are one and the same,” Fernand Fernandez, the Hispanic chamber’s interim president and CEO, said in a statement. “Cancer for one individual can potentially decimate the business, meaning devastating consequences for the entire family.”

According to 2016 Census data, the Hispanic and Latino population in Houston was 44.3 percent. In Harris County it was 42.4 percent, and in Montgomery County, 23.4 percent.

Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics, with 1 in 3 Hispanic women and 1 in 3 Hispanic men diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, according to data from the American Cancer Society and used by the campign. Early screening can make available more treatment options, Rios said.

Rios also hopes the campaign will inspire Hispanics to learn more about their family health history, get regular checkups and get screened for cancer. “Today I have a chance to beat cancer. Tomorrow I may not,” is the statement used as a reminder in the public service announcements.

For more information about the campaign, to get involved or see the four commercials, go to noesperes.org. On social media, the campaign’s hashtag is #HoyNoEsperes.

Katya Alalykina is at the Houston Chronicle as an exchange journalist from St. Petersburg, Russia.