Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month 2014

May 05, 2014 College News - In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, the Medical College of Wisconsin is creating a series of stories that will be posted on InfoScope during the month of May. The stories highlight MCW programs that address health problems that impact Asian-Pacific populations disproportionately.

Asian-Pacific encompasses all of Asia, including China, Japan, and Korea; India; Southeast Asian countries like Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand; the Philippines; and Pakistan. The stories will be posted on MCW’s Honoring Diversity webpage.

Some of the health concerns that disproportionately impact these populations include stomach cancer, liver cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, cleft lip and palate, and type II diabetes.

Liver Cancer Program

The Liver Cancer Program at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin continues to see growth in the number of patients seen as well as the services it offers to the state and the region. Approximately 300 new liver cancer patients are treated through the program annually, the majority of which are diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma or metastatic colorectal cancer. 

The program uses a patient-centered approach to care. Every effort is made to schedule all the specialists a patient needs to see in one visit, and following the visit, a patient’s case is discussed and his/her treatment plan is established at a weekly tumor conference attended by more than 40 health care providers.

The program also offers a second opinion service, where records are reviewed and options discussed. Cases are managed by a team that includes diagnostic radiology, radiation oncology, interventional radiology, surgical oncology, medical oncology, hepatology, transplant surgery, and pathology.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is also referred to as hepatoma or primary liver cancer.  If this cancer is detected early, transplant or removal of the tumor may be an option.  In more advanced stages, interventional radiology procedures offer the greatest benefit. Hepatologists offer screening to those at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma. Risk factors include hepatitis infections, cirrhosis, chemical exposures and race/ethnicity.

Asia has a disproportionately large share of the world’s HCC, mainly because of the epidemic status of chronic hepatitis B and C viruses, which leads to liver cirrhosis and increases the risk of HCC. Worldwide, HCC accounts for almost one million deaths per year, which makes it the third-leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Current management must aim at immunization for hepatitis B, early detection/screening, and development of more effective therapy. The Asian immigrant population needs careful evaluation and screening for hepatitis as these tools can be life saving.

The Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Liver Cancer Program currently offers novel clinical trials for liver cancer in addition to basic science research investigating the role of metabolism in liver cancer.  Speaking nationally and internationally, our team is recognized as a leader in the field.

Student programs
The MCW student chapter of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA), run by MCW medical students, advocates Asian Pacific American issues and concerns within the health care field; serves the health care needs of the Asian Pacific American community; provides a forum for Asian Pacific culture; and enhances cultural awareness and competence among medical practitioners.

MCW APAMSA received a Medicine in the Community grant from the Association of American Medical College (AAMC) and additional funding from the MCW Student Assembly to serve Milwaukee’s Hmong community through the Hmong Health Education Project (HHEP). This project includes weekly blood pressure screenings, a mentorship program with Hmong high school students, health-education radio shows and public service announcements, and a collaboration with Saturday Clinic for the Uninsured (SCU) to serve uninsured Hmong patients.

MCW APAMSA also founded the “Hepatitis B Screening and Awareness Campaign for the Milwaukee Hmong Community” in 2012, an ongoing campaign to increase knowledge of hepatitis B and provide free hepatitis B screenings for the Hmong, an ethnic group that has disproportionately high reported rates of hepatitis B infection. The project held three successful screening events in 2013, screening a total of 148 Hmong community members; the next one is scheduled for May 2014. Funding is possible through grants from the Hepatitis B Task Force: Focus on Asian Pacific Islander Americans, National APAMSA, and Gilead Sciences.

In addition, MCW APAMSA organizes a variety of other activities in the local community, including an annual health fair with Neighborhood House Community Center to reach out to families in central city Milwaukee and a Mock Interview Night for pre-medical students from all over Wisconsin and Illinois.

On campus, MCW APAMSA also organizes an annual bone marrow registration drive for the Be the Match Registry, which helps locate donors for patients in need of marrow transplants. While the drive registers all eligible donors, they encourage people from under-represented populations – especially Asian Americans and African Americans – as there is a lack of available donors for Asian American and African American patients in need of a bone marrow transplant. MCW APAMSA also promotes cultural diversity in the MCW community by hosting lunch/dinner events with faculty from various cultural backgrounds, a Spring Festival of Cultures, Asian food sales, a mentorship/shadowing program, and other events.

In 2013, MCW APAMSA won National APAMSA's "Best Chapter of the Year" award out of 67 chapters, in light of its extensive community service involvement and on-campus efforts to promote Asian Pacific health issues. The chapter was presented with the award at the 2013 National APAMSA Conference in New York, NY.

Dr. B Li, MD, Professor of Pediatrics (Gastroenterology), and Dr. Clarence Chou, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, serve as the chapter’s advisers.

Student enrollment

In academic year 2013-2014, 18 percent (147 out of 811) of the students in the Medical School identified themselves as Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, or Other Asian. Seven percent (28 out of 401) of the students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences are from one of the Asian-Pacific countries and enrolled on a temporary visa, and seven percent (28 out of 401) are U.S citizens or permanent residents who identify themselves as Asian.

International Adoption Clinic

In 2013, more than 2,500 children were adopted into U.S. families from Asia (e.g., China, South Korea, Philippines, Taiwan). This number represents about 40% of all children adopted internationally into the U.S. in 2013, a stable percentage of annual international adoptions into the United States. 

Medical College of Wisconsin faculty and staff seek to support these children and their families through the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin (CHW) International Adoption Clinic.  Located in the CHW Child Development Center, the International Adoption Clinic (IAC) offers a range of services to children and families that attend to their unique medical needs and psychosocial development (e.g., adoptive understanding and racial identity development).

Pre-adoption services include reviews of available medical information for a child; specialists provide information to the family with regards to identified or potential medical needs for a child awaiting adoption. The IAC also offers pre-adoption psychosocial consultations to support the potential family in understanding the emerging developmental, behavioral, or transitional needs of a child adopted internationally.

Following adoption, the IAC offers specialty medical evaluations (within 2-4 weeks of immigration into the United States) and ongoing medical/psychosocial follow-up. The IAC provides services to approximately 30-50 new internationally adopted children annually.