Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic November 28, 2012 - 7:24 am

Pauktuutit plans glossary of Inuit language terms for cancer

Cancer awareness and prevention project will look at patient safety in relation to use of language


Pauktuutit plans to release a glossary of cancer-related terms in Inuktitut as part of a project to increase cancer awareness among Inuit women that was announced Nov. 26, Geri Bailey, the organization’s manager of health policy and programs said.

Inuit have a higher incidence of lung, liver, throat, nasal and salivary cancer, which makes cancer “the second-leading cause of death in Inuit communities,” Bailey said.

Pauktuutit plans to hold focus groups in eight communities, then do an analysis of the groups’ findings, which will be presented at the organization’s annual general meeting.

It’s after this consultation that Pauktuutit will put out the document containing cancer-related terms in Inuktitut equivalents. The glossary will be similar to Tukisiviit, a glossary containing sexual health terms in Inuit language as it’s spoken in the Nunavik Hudson, Nunavik Ungava, Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, and Western Arctic regions as well as plain-language English explanations.

The overall goal of the $629,576 project is to develop awareness around cancer-screening and prevention, Bailey said.

It will also look at health disparities, cultural competency, health literacy and patient safety in relation to the use of language and the need for accurate Inuktitut terminology, she said.

Across Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit language varies from region to region and sometimes from community to community, she said. 

And, with no consistent glossary of terminology in the Inuit languages that addresses cancer, Inuit who require care, treatment and support, and their families and caregivers, can lack the necessary information in their own language to fully understand the specifics of the disease and their condition, Pauktuutit said in a news release about the project.

This may impact their ability to access information or care, navigate the health care system, complete forms, or provide informed consent or information to their health care providers.

It can also affect a patient’s understanding of directions about how and when to take their medication.

Health care providers, interpreters and translators require accurate and consistently understandable terminology in order to communicate about cancer, Pauktuutit said.

The project also aims to provide community health care workers with “tool kits” of information to use as resources when working with Inuit cancer patients.

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