Cancer continuously ranks among the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. The burden of cancer is particularly elevated in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and its 54-county Appalachian region, where cancer is the leading cause of death. Kentucky’s high rates of cancer have been attributed to a wide range of socioeconomic, behavioral, environmental, and policy influences, resulting in numerous disparities.
A group of researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and College of Medicine undertook a socio-ecological review to better understand the cancer disparities in the state. The resulting publication appears in the Southern Medical Journal. Ms. Sharon Rodriguez, is the lead author. Co-authors are Dr. Nathan Vanderford of the UK College of Medicine, Dr. Bin Huang of UK College of Public Health Department of Biostatistics, and Dr. Robin Vanderpool of UK College of Public Health Health Department of Health, Behavior & Society. Rodriguez completed her Master of Health Administration at the UK College of Public Health in 2017.
The review specifically evaluates the burden of lung, colorectal, cervical, and head and neck cancers in Kentucky, along with resultant cancer control research and community outreach efforts conducted by the UK HealthCare Markey Cancer Center, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center using an adapted version of McLeroy’s Social-Ecological Model. Investigators categorized disparities and identified relevant intervention approaches based on their level of influence (i.e., individual, community, and policy).