Latin America

In Latin America, cancer accounts for approximately one in five deaths. The number of annual global cancer deaths is estimated to reach 13.2 million by 2030 due to population growth and aging. Over 35% of these deaths could be prevented by reducing tobacco and alcohol use, improving diet, controlling infection, and improving and increasing access to basic cancer screenings, public health resources, and treatments.

The Global Cancer Program partners with the Instituto Nacional Cancerología (INCan) and the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (INSP) to form the UCSF-Mexico Cancer Initiative, with the aim of strengthening regional cancer research capacity and expanding the institutional cancer research portfolios and training activities in Mexico. Through seed funding provided by the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (HDFCCC) and the Institute for Global Health Sciences, the UCSF-Mexico Cancer Initiative has launched projects focused on colorectal cancer screening policy and adaptation of UCSF genomic sequencing technologies to improve pediatric cancer diagnostics. These projects address issues that local investigators have identified as critical to cancer control in Mexico, and this work has encouraged scientific exchange and capacity-building across collaborating institutions. The UCSF, INCan, and INSP teams look forward to creating more opportunities for Mexican clinicians and scientists to study, prevent, and treat the specific cancer needs of populations in Mexico.

Current Projects: 


Translation of UCSF 500 Cancer Gene Panel Test for Pediatric Cancers in Mexico

UCSF Investigator: Alejandro Sweet-Cordero, MD

Mexico Investigator: Alejandro Mohar Betancourt, MD, ScD, Commissioner of the National Institutes of Health and High Specialty Hospitals of Mexico

UCSF 500 provides genomic sequencing for nearly 500 different genes, including the majority of known cancer genes, and it compares tumor cells and non-tumor cells to understand genetic variants in cancer. The results of this test are used at UCSF to clarify diagnoses and identify appropriate targeted therapies and clinical trials, thus improving patients’ cancer treatment. UCSF has partnered with Instituto Nacional de Medicina Genómica (INMEGEN) to develop an abbreviated gene panel test for pediatric cancers for Mexico. The gene panel for Mexico will test approximately 50 different genes.


Feasibility of a Colorectal Cancer Screening Program in Mexico City

UCSF Investigator: Michael Potter, MD

Mexico Investigator: Martin Lajous, MD, ScD, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer mortality in Mexico, with the mortality rate rapidly increasing, especially in urban areas where there havebeen marked epidemiologal and nutritional transitions. Colorectal cancer is often preventable with screening and early detection, but in the absence of effective screening programs, colorectal cancer is usually diagnosed at advanced stage and associated with poor ourcomes. Growing availability of screening, diagnostic, and treatment resouces in Mexico confers an opportunity to develop Mexico's first colorectal cancer screening program. UCSF, INSP, and INCan have partnered to evaluate the feasibility of a colorectal cancer screening program in Mexico City. This project aims to determine the current capacity in Mexico City to provide colorectal cancer screening, identify potential barriers and facilitators to colorectal cancer screening, and evaluate the feasibility and scalability of incorporating mobile health technology for patient navigation to support completion of a colorectal cancer screening protocol.