The University of Kentucky (UK) Rural Cancer Prevention Center (RCPC), housed at the UK College of Public Health, has just received a $3.75 million, five-year grant renewal from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote screening and prevent death from colorectal cancer in Central Appalachia and other rural areas of Kentucky. The UK RCPC is a planned collaboration of community members, public health professionals, and researchers that conduct applied prevention research to reduce health disparities associated with cervical cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer among residents of the Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD). The UK RCPC, one of just 26 CDC-funded Prevention Research Centers (PRC) in the country, is the only one focused on developing and disseminating strategies for rural cancer prevention.
Kentucky leads the nation in rates of cancer incidence and death, and more people from Appalachian Kentucky die from colorectal cancer than those diagnosed with colorectal cancer in other regions of the state. Concern over this data was voiced by the RCPC’s board of community advisors.
“This is where we need to be focusing our attention — in the response to needs indicated by representatives of the community,” says Dr. Richard Crosby, director of the RCPC and professor and chair of the UK College of Public Health’s department of health behavior.
While colorectal cancer is usually a slow growing cancer that has a much higher survival rate if detected and treated early, delayed or complete lack of screening can lead to late-stage diagnosis when the chance of survival is significantly lower. For people living in rural areas like Appalachia, where they may be geographically, socially, and economically isolated from health care providers, the lack of access to recommended screenings for colorectal cancer is a major problem.