Earlier this summer, second-year University of Maryland Master’s in Public Health student Ms. Rebecca Pyuzza received a $7,200 Cancer Epidemiology Education in Special Population (CEESP) Award from the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI) to conduct breast cancer research in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. As part of the CEESP program Ms. Pyuzza completed a successful student presentation at the 2018 CEESP post-summer session held on July 1. Ms. Pyuzza will also have the opportunity to present her CEESP summer research in an oral presentation at the 2018 International Conference for Cancer Education in Atlanta, Georgia this October.
Ms. Pyuzza’s research focused on comparing epidemiological, demographic, and clinical data to examine the predictors of breast cancer screening participation at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute, Tanzania’s main cancer institute. She interviewed 300 patients about their knowledge and attitudes on breast cancer.
“I appreciated being able to experience what it meant to conduct an epidemiological research study in a developing country and to learn how to navigate and collaborate with the local leaders, clinical staff, and survey participants,” Ms. Pyuzza comments.
This research is especially important in Tanzania. According to the Susan G. Komen foundation breast cancer is the second most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer mortality among women in Tanzania. Due to a multitude of factors including lack of patient education, approximately 80 percent of the women diagnosed with breast cancer in Tanzania are diagnosed at advanced stages (III or IV), when treatment is less effective and outcomes are poor. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that the number of new breast cancer cases will increase by 82 percent in Tanzania by 2030.
“Breast cancer has become a worldwide concern,” Ms. Pyuzza explains. “I believe my research will provide insight on the importance of education and some of the other barriers to care in developing countries to help mitigate the lack of woman seeking care at later stages of cancer.”
Faculty mentors included City University of New York (CUNY) medical professor Dr. Amr Soliman, University of Maryland clinical professor in global health Dr. Muhiuddin Haider, and University of Maryland assistant research professor and advisor Dr. Negin Fouladi.
Now in her final semester of the Master’s in Public Health program with a Global Health Certificate, Ms. Pyuzza plans to work in the area of cancer research and epidemiology and further pursue a doctorate in health services and policy implementations focusing in global health.
The CEESP research training program is funded by the NIH/NCI to develop the careers of public health students from all schools and programs of public health in the U.S. within the field of cancer epidemiology and cancer prevention and control. The program provides funding for students to travel and conduct mentored summer research internships in foreign countries and U.S. minority settings. It is open to graduate public health students (MPH, MSc, PhD, and Dr.PH) from all schools and programs of public health in the U.S. Over the past 15 years, students have conducted research utilizing the strong infrastructure of the program in East, West, and North Africa; the Middle East; Latin America; Eastern Europe; and the Far East.
Originally housed at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the CEESP program has since moved to the CUNY. The program is led by principal investigator and CUNY medical professor Dr. Amr Soliman and co-investigator and CUNY professor emeritus, Dr. Robert Chamberlain.