Kentucky Health News
Kentucky will receive about $2.6 million in federal money over five years to help fight colon cancer by encouraging people to be screened for it, with a focus on populations in Louisville and Appalachia.
“Those regions have large numbers of underserved, underscreened residents,” Gov. Steve Beshear said at a press conference. Screening rates are lower among African Americans, men, the poor and the less educated.
Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, a colon-cancer survivor, said “Colon cancer is the one cancer we can prevent through early screening and detection. And if it is caught early, it can be treated effectively.”
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the five-year survival rate for colon cancer is 90 percent when it is found and treated early. In 2013, the last year for which data are available, Kentucky ranked first in colon cancer and fourth in colon-cancer deaths, according to the Colon Cancer Prevention Project.
|This Kentucky Cancer Consortium graph shows the
deaths from cancers with evidence-based prevention
or early detection methods in Kentucky in 2005-09.
Kentucky has both the highest rate of new cancers and deaths from cancer in the nation, many of them preventable through early screening and detection. But preventive screening among those who have recently gotten insurance for the first time and those without insurance is not the norm, partly because people who have been accustomed to getting health care only when something seems wrong often don’t understand the importance of preventive screening or that these services are provided free of charge if they have Medicaid or private insurance.
A recently reported CDC study found that Americans with insurance or with higher incomes were up to three times more likely than those without coverage or with lower incomes to receive preventive screenings and services, which has certainly been the case with Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid population.
A Department for Medicaid Services report found that preventive screenings rose sharply in 2014 among Medicaid recipients in Kentucky: colorectal cancer screenings rose 108 percent to 35,633; breast cancer screenings rose 111 percent to 51,292; cervical cancer screenings rose 88 percent to 78,281;cholesterol screenings rose 111 percent to 170,514; preventive dental services rose 116 percent to 159,508, to name a few. This increase in preventive care is expected to improve the future health outcomes of Kentuckians and to help decrease future cost by catching problems earlier.
Kentucky has made great strides in fighting colon cancer.
In 2002, the Kentucky Cancer Consortium began an initiative that brought more than 60 different agencies and organizations together to fight colon cancer. At the time, Kentucky’s colorectal-cancer screening rate was next to lowest in the nation, said Dr. Tom Tucker, senior director for cancer surveillance at the University of Kentucky‘s Markey Cancer Center and director of the Kentucky Cancer Registry.