Indian Health Service, Roswell Park Launch Partnership to Reduce Cancer’s Impact on Native Communities

Innovative collaboration focuses on patient care, community outreach, career and education opportunities

BUFFALO, N.Y. — In a new and historic collaboration, the Indian Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center are partnering to reduce cancer’s impact on American Indian and Alaska Native communities around the country. The agreement focuses on health care and cancer prevention as well as facilitation of research and expansion of career and educational opportunities for Native American populations.

“This important collaboration between the Indian Health Service and Roswell Park offers a unique opportunity to provide access to a broad array of cancer prevention services to American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” says Mary Smith, IHS principal deputy director and an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. “IHS partners with many organizations to bring additional resources and capacity to the Indian health system, and with these experts we can better address the needs of our patients and native communities.”

“The agreement will strengthen our relationships with Native American communities and help us to ensure that culturally appropriate cancer education, research and services are accessible to everyone,” says Rodney Haring, PhD, MSW, assistant professor of oncology in the Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research at Roswell Park. “The values and traditions of Native American culture will inform and enhance our efforts to reduce the devastating burden of cancer, not only in Native communities but for everyone.” An enrolled member of the Seneca Nation, Dr. Haring is also a delegate to the American Indian and Alaska Native Health Research Advisory Council within HHS.

Roswell Park and the Indian Health Service have agreed to collaborate in the following areas:

  • Research addressing health disparities
  • Cancer risk reduction, prevention and early detection of cancer
  • Cancer-related medical care
  • Community outreach and training
  • Expanded career and education opportunities in oncology

IHS will use its resources and expertise to facilitate relationships of trust between Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the members and leaders of native communities. Through these relationships, Roswell Park and IHS can work with the communities to ascertain cancer-related needs and address health disparities that are unique or prevalent in these communities.

“Roswell Park is honored to unite with the Indian Health Service to improve the quality of cancer care, prevention and educational services for indigenous communities throughout the United States,” says Candace Johnson, PhD, president and CEO of Roswell Park. “The goals of this program are a critical piece to our work to reduce cancer’s impact in this region, and we are eager to realize lasting benefits through this collaboration.”


About Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Indian Health Service
The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. For more information, visit Follow IHS on Facebook. For IHS data on cancer and death rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives, please consult the Trends in Indian Health: 2014 Edition at For example, IHS is working on increasing colorectal cancer screening through efforts in provider education, public education and awareness, and capacity building at IHS and Tribal facilities. Since the introduction of colorectal cancer screening as a performance reporting measure in 2006, the percentage of IHS patients screened for colorectal cancer has increased.

Media Contact

Deborah Pettibone, Roswell Park
Indian Health Service
(301) 443-3593,