Gov. Steve Beshear and the newly formed Kentucky Cancer Foundation are teaming up to form a public/private collaboration aimed at tackling Kentucky’s high cancer rates. University of Kentucky faculty from the College of Medicine and College of Public Health are heavily involved in the project.
“Kentucky has the highest lung and colorectal cancer incidence rates in the nation, and we also have the highest cancer death rate in the country,” said Thomas Tucker, associate director for the UK Markey Cancer Control Program. “The partnership between the Governor and the newly formed foundation is a big step toward addressing the state’s excessive cancer burden.”
The Kentucky Cancer Foundation will help fund selected portions of the state’s overall Kentucky Cancer Action Plan. The KCAP outlines goals and strategies for cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and quality of life, but lack of funding has held back some of its progress.
“We have been working collaboratively to develop and implement a statewide Kentucky Cancer Action Plan for more than 10 years with insufficient federal, state and local funds to fully provide evidence-based cancer prevention and early detection strategies,” said Jennifer Redmond, Kentucky Cancer Foundation board member and assistant professor in the UK College of Public Health. “As a result of the formation of the Kentucky Cancer Foundation, there will be more prevention and detection of cancer at its earliest, treatable, and most beatable stages throughout the state of Kentucky.”
The initial project between the foundation and Gov. Beshear would screen 4,000 uninsured Kentuckians for colon cancer. Kentucky’s incidence of colon cancer is the second highest in the nation and more than 20 percent higher than the national average. Kentucky also has the third highest colon and rectal cancer death rate in the U.S.
The Kentucky Cancer Action Plan is the responsibility of the Kentucky Cancer Consortium and was initially completed in 2001, with revisions made as needed. The consortium is a statewide comprehensive cancer control coalition of 44 organizations charged with reducing the significant cancer burden in Kentucky.
The consortium, chaired by UK College of Medicine professor of surgery and Kentucky Cancer Foundation board member Dr. Daniel Kenady, is one of the four divisions of the UK Markey Cancer Center Control Program. Other divisions are the Kentucky Cancer Registry, Kentucky Cancer Program and the UK Prevention Research Center.
These organizations combine resources from both UK — through the Colleges of Medicine and Public Health and the UK Markey Cancer Center — and cancer control specialists across the state.
“Cancer is too big and complex a problem for any one group to address efficiently,” Kenady said. “Comprehensive cancer control offers the power of collaboration as a key approach to reducing cancer.”
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