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Latin American Cancer Collaboration Grows

Note: This item has been corrected and updated to include more information about the projects.

The U.S. National Cancer Institute will help Chile’s Ministry of Health set up a national cancer registry and tumor bank, as well as assist in studies of breast cancer and gallbladder cancer. NCI announced the venture yesterday, after representatives from both countries signed a letter of intent. The collaboration may include sharing research materials and working together on cross-border projects; there's no money involved. Chile is the first of five Latin American countries--Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Uruguay--that has officially signed on to collaborate with NCI on cancer research.

NCI's focus will be providing not money but expertise in different areas, to help a country like Chile get a cancer registry off the ground, says Jorge Gomez, director of the Office of Latin American Cancer Program Development at NCI.  "It's really up to them" to fund the projects, he says, and NCI is in discussions with them to determine how much funding they can dedicate.

Scientifically, Gomez thinks a lot can be learned. For example, a country like Uruguay has done well controlling cervical cancer, while other Latin American nations haven't—but why that is remains a mystery. In addition, all five participating Latin American countries are interested in getting NCI's help to develop molecular profiles of breast cancer in their patients, which could elucidate how breast cancer varies from population to population, and how best to treat it.

Correction: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Uruguay have not yet signed agreements to collaborate with NCI on cancer research. They are expected to do that later this summer.