Remaking Rural Health: A KET Special Report

Meet People Where They Are: University of Kentucky Rural Cancer Prevention Center

Rural Appalachia, particularly southeastern Kentucky, is widely recognized as a region with citizens who suffer from chronic disease and cancers. UK Rural Cancer Prevention Center (RCPC) aims to change that, by focusing primarily on those cancers most detectable through routine screenings: cervical cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer.

With cervical cancer rates running over 40 percent higher than rates in the rest of the nation, RCPC created a special initiative to increase use of the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil among young adults 19 to 26.

The staff employs novel strategies to reach the community with the message of prevention. They man booths at Walmarts and other public places, use Facebook and other social media strategies, and communicate with patients via text message.

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“We started this project a little over a year ago, and now we’re feeling like we’re almost a brand name in the area,” Wallace Bates, associate director, says.

Although the Gardasil vaccine requires three doses given over several months, follow-through rates have been impressive. Staff also give vaccines and test results in their own homes and in the homes of the participants—whatever it takes to meet the needs of the population.

“We’re proud of the fact that we seem to be getting a lot of the girls coming back and taking all three doses. We know it will make a difference in the future,” Cissi Jones, a nurse and researcher with the program, says.

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Remaking Rural Health: A KET Special Report is a KET production, Laura Krueger, producer, and is funded, in part, by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.