New Cancer Research Tailors to American Indian Populations

Charlotte Hofer
May 14, 2013

With one mind we address our acknowledgment, respect, and gratefulness to all the sacred Cycle of Life. We, as humans, must remember to be humble and acknowledge the gifts we use so freely in our daily lives. — American Indian Proverb

According to the American Cancer Society, there is a low cancer survival rate among American Indians. And a new study funded by the American Cancer Society anad headed by researcher Dr. Delf Schmidt-Grimminger finds that there is a high prevalence of HPV and high incidence of cervical cancer among American Indian women in the Northern Plains.

Why does this occur? HPV vaccination coverage is shown to be lower among American Indian populations. Furthermore, part of the problem may be that information and access to cancer screening and early detection are often limited in many American Indian communities.

What can be done to fix this disparity? Dr. Delf Schmidt-Grimminger’s research, soon-to-be published nationally in the medical Journal of Cancer Education, ultimately found that locally and culturally tailored educational interventions increased HPV knowledge and HPV vaccination among American Indian women.

The study took place on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota, which is home to the Sioux tribe. Tribal elders and members collaborated with Dr. Schmidt-Grimminger in order to tailor his research to fit the population’s needs.

That’s why the American Cancer Society believes understanding culture is so important! 

“With over 500 tribes in the United States who speak more than 217 different languages, the need for customizable material is very important,” says Dr. Schmidt-Grimminger. “And, every community is unique.”

Dr. Schmidt-Grimminger isn’t the first researcher to find a disproportionate incidence in American Indian cancer occurrence and severity. Other studies have shown that the overall survival and mortality rates in American Indian cancer patients may significantly improve if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage. But right now, early diagnosis isn’t common. That’s why education, screening, and early detection are essential in order to stay healthy and cancer-free.

For more information about cancer prevention and screenings, contact the American Cancer Society at 1.800.227.2345 or

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end cancer for good. As a global grassroots force of three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping you stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early, helping you get well by being there for you during and after a diagnosis, by finding cures through groundbreaking discovery and fighting back through public policy. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.8 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, an estimated 13.7 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit