Ky Cancer Needs Assessment Report Details Critical Steps to Address Cancer Burden

University of Kentucky

Everyone has a story.

And in Kentucky, it is likely that you know of at least one person whose story involves cancer – whether you are living with the disease yourself or supporting a friend or loved one through their cancer journey.

Kentucky consistently bears one of the highest cancer burdens in the nation – ranking first overall in new cancer cases and deaths – with more than 27,000 new cases and over 10,100 deaths each year.

The Kentucky Cancer Needs Assessment (KY CNA) is a comprehensive report from a steering committee of collaborative organizations, driven by the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. The report – released every five years – combines data and community perspectives that illustrate how social determinants of health, behaviors and biology intersect to tell the current story of cancer in Kentucky and highlights opportunities to rewrite it.

The 2021 report finds that Kentucky is among the top five worst states for incidence and mortality among lung, colorectal, oral, kidney, cervical, brain, melanoma, leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancers. The Commonwealth also runs in the top five worst states for adults who currently smoke, adults with no physical activity, youth obesity, new Hepatitis C infections, people living in poverty and adults without a bachelor’s degree.

Additionally, Kentucky has significant disparities in cancer rates and related risk factors among rural, Appalachian, Black and Hispanic populations. Low education and high poverty contribute to Kentucky’s high cancer burden. Forty of Kentucky’s 120 counties – mostly in Appalachia – have had “persistent poverty” across the past four decades.

“The assessment provides actionable information that can be used by a wide range of stakeholders,” said Pamela Hull, Ph.D., associate director of Population Science and Community Impact in the UK Markey Cancer Center and an associate professor of Behavioral Science in the UK College of Medicine. “It is critical that our partners across the Commonwealth work together to address the identified needs and respond to community-driven priorities and solutions.”

The KY CNA will guide development of Kentucky’s next statewide Cancer Action Plan (KY CAP) for 2022-2027 through the Kentucky Cancer Consortium. Public and private organizations and entities from multiple sectors can use the KY CNA to inform their strategic planning, program planning and evaluation activities and to educate decision makers. Markey Cancer Center will use the KY CNA to stimulate new community-engaged research and to engage community members through the Kentucky Cancer Program.

The Markey Cancer Center Community Impact Office will plan to collaborate with partner organizations to release a Kentucky Cancer Needs Assessment every five years moving forward.

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