The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center has received a five-year, $6.8 million award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the U.S. government's lead agency for cancer research, to operate the Appalachia Cancer Network (ACN). The ACN will serve rural, medically underserved communities in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York.
UK Markey Cancer Center is one of 17 organizations to receive funding through NCI's new Special Populations Networks for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training Initiative. The 17 programs funded through this initiative will address high cancer rates and local health barriers within specific minority and medically underserved populations. The programs will establish local coalitions, involve community leaders, help develop community outreach programs, and promote local participation in cancer research.
"All the states in the ACN region have overall cancer rates exceeding the national average, and a majority have particularly high rates for cancers of the lung, cervix and colon," said Stephen Wyatt, D.M.D., UK Markey Cancer Center associate director for cancer control and the principal investigator for the ACN grant.
"This heavy cancer burden can be linked to low incomes, low education levels, high unemployment, limited access to health information and health care services, and other social and economic factors that negatively impact public health," Wyatt said. "The ACN will help Appalachian residents and health care providers understand and address these barriers."
ACN will be a consortium of regional, state and local partners, such as universities, cancer centers, health departments, community groups, Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), the American Cancer Society, and NCI's Cancer Information Service (CIS), including the Mid-South CIS also administered by the UK Markey Cancer Center. West Virginia University and Pennsylvania State University will serve as the two key consortium affiliates.
Angel Rubio will be the director of ACN. He also is the director of Community-Based Research at the UK Markey Cancer Center's Cancer Control Program.
ACN will put special emphasis on cancer research, tobacco issues, and prevention and treatment for cancers of the lung, cervix, colon/rectum, and breast. Specifically, ACN will:
- measure community knowledge of existing cancer control programs and the latest advances in cancer prevention, screening and treatments;
- coordinate training sessions, workshops, and media campaigns on cancer topics;
- work with area AHEC programs to attract local youths to public health careers related to cancer control;
- provide improved access to NCI resources and promote use of the CIS;
- encourage and assist local health professionals in developing NCI research proposals;
- increase public awareness of clinical trials (research studies involving people) and encourage participation in clinical trials, particularly by rural, medically underserved patients.
Other UK faculty involved in ACN include Research Director Colleen McHorney, Ph.D., associate director of the UK Center for Health Services Management and Research; Regional Principal Investigator Peggy Hickman, Ed.D., associate professor, UK College of Nursing; Richard Kryscio, Ph.D., chair, Department of Statistics, UK College of Arts and Sciences; Mae Marie Quan, associate program administrator, UK AHEC program; Karen Main, Ph.D., deputy director, UK Center for Rural Health; and Linda Linville, Ph.D., director for cancer practice, UK Markey Cancer Center Cancer Control Program.
ACN will build on cancer control work done over the last seven years by the NCI-funded Appalachian Leadership Initiative on Cancer (ALIC), which ended last month. Under this initiative the UK Markey Cancer Center administered the Central Highlands Appalachia Leadership Initiative on Cancer, directed by Rubio.
"ACN is committed to supporting and expanding the community-campus partnerships developed under ALIC," said Rubio. "We plan to build on their screening and early detection programs and address other cancer control issues affecting the region."