First project would screen 4,000 uninsured Kentuckians for colon cancer
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 28, 2012) – Governor Steve Beshear Tuesday joined members of the newly formed Kentucky Cancer Foundation to announce a public-private collaboration aimed at tackling the state’s continued problem with high rates of cancer.
The foundation will help fund selected portions of the state’s overall Kentucky Cancer Action Plan. Kentucky is one of the worst states in the nation for cancer. Of all Kentucky cancer deaths, 54 percent are from lung, breast, cervical and colon cancers.
“Despite Kentucky’s current budget constraints, my administration is recommending several critical investments designed to tackle generational problems that plague our state,” Beshear said. “One of these investments is to provide colon cancer screenings for our uninsured Kentuckians.”
The initial collaborative project would screen 4,000 uninsured Kentuckians for colon cancer.
Beshear placed $1 million in his current budget proposal that is before the Kentucky General Assembly for these screenings. The foundation would match his funding dollar-for-dollar, for a total of $2 million to be spent over the biennium by the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program.
The Governor said his partnership with the foundation is a perfect example of the type of effort needed to provide education and prevention programs to reduce cancer across the Commonwealth.
“Our most recent information shows more than 24,000 new cases of cancer in Kentucky each year and of those, more than 9,500 Kentuckians die from these cancers,” Beshear said. “This is a real problem in our state that is affecting the lives of every family. As a cancer survivor, I know firsthand that screenings and an early diagnosis will help save our citizens from this horrible disease.”
Kentucky is No. 1 for lung cancer incidence and mortality in the nation. The incidence rate is 49 percent higher than the national average, while the mortality rate is 47 percent higher than the rest of the nation.
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 United States.
The foundation will raise private funds and pursue grants to pay for evidence-based prevention and early detection services for citizens of the Commonwealth who are unable to afford services like mammograms, pap smears, smoking cessation programs and colon cancer screenings. The board of the foundation will help raise funds for these additional screenings.
“Kentucky is known as the nation’s No. 1 cancer state,” said Dr. Whitney Jones, a co-founder of the foundation. “Having adequate funding for these needed screenings is the missing link between the uninsured and cancer prevention/early detection. That’s why the mission of the foundation is so important to the future of Kentucky. Gov. Beshear shares this passion and his support is critical to our mission.”
The goal of the foundation is to reduce lung, colon, breast and cervical cancers through partnering with both the private and public sectors, Dr. Jones said.
The Kentucky Cancer Action Plan outlines goals and strategies for cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and quality of life, and is the responsibility of the Kentucky Cancer Consortium. The consortium is a statewide comprehensive cancer control coalition of 44 organizations charged with reducing the significant cancer burden in Kentucky.
“Cancer is too big and complex a problem for any one group to address efficiently,” said Dr. Daniel Kenady, chair of the consortium. “Comprehensive cancer control offers the power of collaboration as a key approach to reducing cancer.”
The 4,000 screenings proposed by the Governor are part of the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program that was created by the Kentucky Legislature in April 2008 but was never funded.
The Governor proposes to invest $500,000 in Fiscal Year 2013 and $500,000 in Fiscal Year 2014, and this funding will be matched by foundation. The funds would be administered by the Kentucky Department of Public Health and would provide administration, education, outreach and colonoscopies.
“With Kentucky unfortunately being one of the leaders in colon cancer deaths, this new initiative will help reduce that number, and keep people alive and well with their families,” said Sen. Robert Stivers, of Manchester.
“This initiative will provide a great service to those Kentuckians who otherwise could not financially afford to receive colon cancer screenings,” added Rep. Jim Glenn, of Owensboro.
Founding trustees and board members of the foundation include Dr. Jones, Dr. Kenady, Crit Luallen, Dr. David Stevens, Dr. Jennifer Redmond, Lyle Hanna and Jack Hillard.
Note: The Governor will join foundation members, health advocates and cancer survivors at 1 p.m. Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol for a colon cancer awareness rally.