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Men’s health featured at 8th Mayo Clinic Spirit of Eagles


ROCHESTER, Minn. – Native men’s health is one of the featured topics at the 8th Mayo Clinic Spirit of Eagles National Conference on Changing Patterns of Cancer in Native Communities.

Hosted by Mayo School of Continuous Professional Development, the conference will be Sept. 11 – 14, at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle. A draft agenda is available on the Web at

“Much attention in recent years has been focused on breast and cervical cancer prevention strategies for women, but our Native men are prematurely dying of cancer, heart disease and diabetes,” said Judith Kaur, M.D., Mayo Clinic oncologist and course director for the conference. Several presentations will look at this issue and how communities are addressing it.

Registration is now open to community members, cancer survivors, heath care advocates, elders, researchers, health care providers and college/medical students.

The theme of this year’s event is “Strength through Tradition and Science.” Speakers will discuss cancer research advances that affect American Indian/Alaska Natives, present examples of community cancer control initiatives, and highlight how the strengths of AI/AN traditions can promote cancer prevention and control.

Conference highlights include:

  • Arne Vainio, M.D., an Ojibwe and a family physician on the Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota, will discuss the reluctance of middle-aged Native men to seek health screenings. Vainio saw this phenomenon in his patients and himself. To bring attention to this concern, he took the leading role in an Emmy-nominated documentary “Walking into the Unknown.” It follows Vainio as he experiences the health care system in his 49th and 50th years, a critical time to make changes for a healthier, longer life. The movie will be shown.
  • James Hampton, M.D., will be honored for his lifelong commitment and pioneering efforts to improve health in Native communities. Hampton, 78, was the first Native American oncologist in the United States and continues his practice today in Oklahoma City. His storied career includes working to improve cancer prevention and treatment in Native communities through local, regional and national organizations including the National Cancer Institute.

  • The new Indian Health Care Improvement Act included in the recent health care reform bill will significantly affect Native communities. Its impact on cancer prevention and control will be highlighted.

  • Several pilot projects on colon cancer screening in Native communities are funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will be featured in the breakout sessions. Spirit of Eagles is an NCI-funded initiative to increase cancer awareness, research and cancer care resources among tribal nations and organizations.

For more information, or to register, call Julie Fjetland at Mayo Clinic Spirit of Eagles, (507) 538-8385 or visit A limited number of scholarships are available.