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Enhancing Cancer Control in Rural Kansas

October 26, 2018

Two National Cancer Institute (NCI) supplement grants awarded to The University of Kansas Cancer Center will support efforts to assess cancer control needs in the region’s rural and underserved communities.

According to recent studies, people in rural areas get cancer less often, but they die from it at higher rates compared to people in urban areas. More than 19 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural communities, and KU Cancer Center’s defined catchment area - the entire state of Kansas and western Missouri - exceeds the national average. Nearly 26 percent of Kansans live in rural areas.

Many cancer cases and deaths are preventable with effective cancer control efforts such as preventive screenings and vaccinations. Cancer control programs work to find and use the most effective ways to:

  • Prevent cancer
  • Reduce the risk of cancer
  • Find cancer earlier
  • Improve cancer treatments
  • Help more people survive cancer
  • Improve the quality of life for people who have cancer.

KU Cancer Center’s Cancer Control and Population Health program was developed to identify better ways to bring such efforts into such high-risk communities. The first funded effort, led by Cancer Control and Population Health program co-leader Christie Befort, PhD, and Allen Greiner, MD, MPH, will seek to better understand cancer-related prevention and treatment taking place in rural primary care practices. In addition to looking at ways to improve care delivery, the team will visit multiple practices to look at collection and analysis resources to identify and address key cancer control needs.

“By studying these methods in the real world and learning what it takes to implement them successfully, we hope to advance and improve the care patients receive and reduce the burden of cancer in rural populations,” Dr. Greiner said.

The second effort, led by Babalola Faseru, MD, MPH, Cancer Control and Population Health Research program member, will support the design and implementation of a health needs survey of KU Cancer Center’s catchment area. Researchers will work closely with its outreach arm, the Midwest Cancer Alliance, rural and urban primary care practices and community partners to generate and utilize data that will expand cancer control research and implementation efforts.

“These collaborations will enable us to identify cancer-related needs of the communities we serve, reduce cancer-related health disparities and improve cancer-related communications in our catchment area,” Dr. Faseru said.

As an NCI-designated cancer center, these efforts uphold KU Cancer Center’s core mission to reduce the burden of cancer in the areas it serves.

“We hope to use these findings to get a better understanding of how we can direct our research and outreach efforts to better meet the needs of rural practices and the patients they serve,” Dr. Greiner said.

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