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NEW YORK MAR 27, 2007 (Reuters Health) - A national strategy on cancer prevention and education aimed at the Hispanic population in the United States is urgently needed, an oncologist from the University of Cincinnati told participants at the National Hispanic Medical Association meeting in San Antonio.

Hispanics are the fastest growing minority population in this country, Dr. Margie Gerena-Lewis noted in a telephone interview with Reuters Health. "One of the problems with the Hispanic population in the United States is that they do not get any screening tests for cancer."

"That's because a lot of the Hispanic population have low incomes and they do not have good access to medical care," she explained. "If they do have access, they often do not trust the medical system. Many do not have legal papers and they fear they could potentially be deported if they seek care."

As a result, Hispanics are often diagnosed late with cancers that are more advanced, more difficult to treat and potentially more expensive to the healthcare system, Gerena-Lewis added.

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